Cooking For Two: Dinner Recipes For Date Night

Make cooking as a couple fun by following this recipe designed for two cooks in the kitchen.

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Who doesn’t fantasize about having a personal chef? Cooking often seems like just another chore, especially when the burden falls more on one partner. But what if making a meal were a way to get you talking, laughing, and enjoying each other after a grueling day?

It can happen—if you divvy up the labor. To take the guesswork out of job-sharing, we’ve divided the kitchen into domains and designed this menu for two chefs: one on prep, and one at the stove. Our plan is easy, equitable, and set up for sharing the kitchen seamlessly, with no squabbling.


As for dish duty, you’re on your own.

RELATED: 6 Reasons Couples Who Cook Together Are Way Happier And Healthier

Date night dinner recipe for two cooks in the kitchen.

First, decide who is going to do which job.

STOVE COOK puts on a large pot of salted water to boil, pours wine, and sets the table


PREP COOK starts preparing the ingredients for the ragout.

Spring-Vegetable Ragout on Papardelle with Mint Pesto

1/2 lemon
10 baby artichokes
1 shallot
1/4 pound young carrots (about 3 or 4), well scrubbed
1/4 pound fresh morel mushrooms, cleaned
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 pound papardelle or fettucine

1. Fill a medium bowl with very cold water and the juice of half a lemon. Cut the top third, stems, and any tough bits off each artichoke. Snap off all but the innermost yellow-green leaves and slice artichokes in half. Scoop out any fuzzy purple choke. Immediately put the cleaned artichoke in water.

2. Mince the shallot. Slice the carrots on the diagonal into bite-size pieces. Snip off the morel stems and slice the caps.


PREP COOK passes the ragout to STOVE COOK and starts making Mint Pesto.

STOVE COOK takes over the ragout at Step 3.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet or shallow pan with a lid. Sauté the shallot over medium-low heat just until translucent (not brown). Add the artichokes and carrots and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes. Cover and cook until tender, about 5 more minutes (stir occasionally so nothing sticks).

4. Add the mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stir and continue to cook, covered, until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the peas and cook uncovered 2 more minutes.

Mint Pesto

1 1/2 cups mint leaves (washed and spun dry)
1/2 cup basil leaves (washed and spun dry)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping


In a blender or food processor, puree the mint, basil, and garlic cloves while slowly pouring in the olive oil. Stop and scrape the bowl, then add the cheese and puree until smooth

STOVE COOK moves on to Seared Lamb.

PREP COOK takes over the pasta at Step 5.

5. Cook pasta until al dente (approx. 5 minutes). Drain the cooked pasta and toss it with the Ragout and Mint Pesto to taste. (Any extra pesto can be stored in a jar, refrigerated, for a week.) Keep the pasta warm in a covered pan on the stove until ready to serve.

Seared Lamb Steaks with Red-Wine Pan Sauce

Lamb steaks are the essence of spring when paired with minty pasta and seasonal vegetables. If you can’t find lamb steaks (cut from the leg), substitute blade chops.


2 bone-in lamb steaks, about 3/4 inch thick (1 1/2 pounds total)
Salt & pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup red wine*(see note below)

1. Heat a heavy non-reactive (i.e., not cast iron) skillet over medium heat until very hot. Lightly season the lamb steaks with salt and pepper and sear them on both sides until nicely browned but still pink inside, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. (Cook longer for more well-done lamb, but remember that it will keep cooking once removed from the pan!)

2. Remove the steaks to a plate. Reduce the heat under the pan to low. When the pan has cooled a bit, add the butter and wine. Pour in any juices from the plate and simmer, stirring, until the sauce has thickened slightly. Adjust seasoning to taste and pour over the steaks.


STOVE COOK and PREP COOK join each other at the table to share to results of their kitchen collaboration.

*Make your pan sauce with the same wine that you are drinking with your meal. A great match with lamb is a medium-bodied, full-flavored Côtes du Rhône. Try the delicious Delas Côtes du Ventoux 2003, which has enough heft to stand up to the steaks without overpowering the spring vegetables—and costs less than $10 a bottle.

RELATED:10 Tips For Making Cooking As A Couple Fun & Efficient

Gourmand and hostess Califia Suntree has worked in restaurants, catered, edited cookbooks, and snacked her way across the country.