Valentine's Day Menu Ideas

How to Celebrate Valentine's Day the Dutch Way

Valentine's Day is slowly gaining ground in Holland, and while it isn't fully embraced yet, we have a few ideas for celebrating the holiday of love with your (Dutch) partner.

Stress is the last thing you want on Valentine's Day. It's one thing to cook up a storm for your sweetie, but what's the point if you're too tired afterward to be any fun? That's why our Dutch Valentine's Day Menu includes plenty of options that can be prepared ahead of time.

  • 01 of 08

    Set the Scene

    Romantic table setting
    Romantic table setting. Lisa Thornberg / Getty Images

    To create a romantic setting, make sure that the table looks pretty. This is the time to use your best plates, glasses, and cutlery (borrow some from family or friend, if necessary). Upgrade your everyday tableware with pretty napkins, a crisp white table cloth and a sprinkling of rose petals. A small vase of flowers and plenty of candles add to the mood. Turn off all televisions, phones, and bright lights, and play your favorite music.

  • 02 of 08

    Offer Something to Drink

    Red Light Cocktail
    Red Light Cocktail. Helen Yin / Getty Images

    Get things lubricated with a chilled glass of champagne, cava or prosecco. If you'd like to start with a cocktail, our Red Light Cocktail is the appropriate blushing hue for Valentine's Day and is sure to put some color in your cheeks. You might also like our Lavender & Lemon Genever & Tonic.

  • 03 of 08

    Something to Nibble On

    Serve some classic croquettes.
    Serve some classic croquettes. Carl Pendle / Getty Images

    Serve something to go with the drinks while you put on the finishing touches. Our cheese straws (kaasstengels) and Gouda cookies are always devoured in a flash. Shrimp croquettes can be prepared in advanced and deep fried at the last minute. Store-bought snacks are fine too. We particularly like those cherry red sweet piquante peppers with chards of oude kaas (aged Gouda cheese).

  • 04 of 08

    Valentine's Day Menu Ideas: Starters

    Salmon Tartare
    Salmon Tartare. Daniel Patriasz / Getty Images

    A Valentine's Day meal, or any romantic meal for that matter, should be fairly light. After all, you want to be in the mood for love afterward ... not a snooze. Light foods, such as soups, souffle, and seafood, are ideal. For starters, try this airy Carrot Soufflé recipe or zingy Salmon Tartare or make a soup that can be prepared in advance and simply warmed up on the day, such as Foamy Cream of Parsnip Soup with Prawns, Pink Beetroot & Orange Soup, Lobster Soup or Creamy Belgian Endive Soup with White Beer.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Valentine's Day Menu Ideas: The Main Event

    Mussels with Saffron & Ginger
    Mussels with Saffron & Ginger. Uitgeverij KunstMag / Getty Images

    Keep your lover in mind when selecting recipes. If your date's idea of culinary heaven is steak and chips, you could upgrade to Venison Steak or Pork Cordon Bleu and Oven Fries with Rosemary & Lemon Sea Salt or Roasted Root Veggies, but don't be surprised if you both doze off soon after dinner.

    Seafood is a lighter bet, and Dutch mussels are a fine choice. They're known for their so-called aphrodisiac properties and are the perfect food for feeding each other, which is sure to get you in the mood. And, they happen to be in season in February. Mussels are best served straight from pot to plate, so make these at the last minute. Our Moreish Mussels are served with Thick-Cut Oven Baked Fries, homemade Mayonnaise and samphire (optional). You might also want to try Mussels with Saffron and Ginger.

    We also love this recipe for Trout in Foil with White Wine & Tarragon Sauce or go the classic route with this Sole with Hollandaise Sauce Recipe.

  • 06 of 08

    Serve a Dutch Cheese Board

    Dutch Cheese Plate (Hollandse Kaasplankje)
    Dutch Cheese Plate (Hollandse Kaasplankje). K. Engelbrecht / Getty Images

    Many people don't have a sweet tooth. If your date falls into this category, you could forego dessert and serve a Dutch Cheese Plate instead, or add it as a lavish extra course. The Netherlands is well-known for its typical Gouda and Edam cheeses, but why not try a Dutch Cheese Plate with aged goat's cheese, blue-veined Gouda, herb cheese with nettles ('brandnetelkaas') and a delicious young goat's cheese? Serve with our Speculaas-Spiced Apple & Pear Chutney or Pickled Beet Salad.

  • 07 of 08

    Valentine's Day Menu Ideas: Sweets for Your Sweet

    Aromatic Dutch Poached Pears
    Aromatic Dutch Poached Pears. Lauri Patterson / Getty Images

    Did you know that cinnamon is said to be an aphrodisiac, and that the Queen of Sheba allegedly seduced King Solomon with cinnamon? With that in mind, we recommend these perfectly pink, semi-heart shaped Poached Pears, drizzled with honey and served with Cinnamon Ice-Cream.

    If you insist on going the route of that other famous St. Valentine's Day aphrodisiac, chocolate, our Dark Chocolate Mousse is always a hit. Is your date a chocoholic? This rich, sweet and decadent Baked Chocolate Custard will satisfy even their strongest cravings. Serve with a good brandy or cognac and a strong cup of coffee.

    Or you might fall in love with our Vanilla Tulbandjes with Raspberry Cream or our enduringly popular Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.

  • 08 of 08

    Coffee and Cookies

    Zandkoekjes. K. Engelbrecht / Getty Images

    Perhaps all you need with your post-prandial coffee is a classic Dutch cookie or two? You could bake these zandkoekjes (the Dutch answer to shortbread), crunchy kletskoppen or stroopkoeken, those delicious treacle-filled cookies, a few days in advance.