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Here's the Perfect Microgreen-Packed Dinner to Make for Your Valentine

valentines-day-dinners-specials-boston-2016

Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and as history has proven, getting a reservation at you and your significant other's favorite restaurant can be a bit of a struggle.

So why not stay in this year? Not only is making a meal from start to finish a great way to show that you care, but you can also ensure what goes into your dishes.

Featuring fresh herbs and vegetables, here are recipes to a multiple-course dinner—and even a cocktail—that will leave you and your date feeling good.

Happy Valentine's Day!
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Appetizer


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Peashoot and baby artichoke salad with parmesan croutons

From Martha Stewart
Ingredients
3 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 1/4 cups), divided
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 ounces rustic bread, such as pane pugliese, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 lemon, zested
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 or 2 lemons), plus more for drizzling
1 1/4 pounds baby artichokes
4 ounces pea shoots (about 8 cups)
5 medium radishes, thinly sliced

Method
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss together 3/4 cup Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and cayenne in a small bowl. Toss bread with 2 tablespoons oil on a rimmed baking sheet, spread into a single layer, and sprinkle with half of cheese mixture. Bake 10 minutes. Flip bread with a spatula and sprinkle with remaining cheese mixture. Bake until bread is golden brown but still soft in center, about 5 minutes more. Reserve any cheesy bits on baking sheet.

2. Combine lemon zest and juice, 1/4 cup oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, peel tough outer leaves. Trim 1 1/2 inches from top and trim stem. Trim fibrous green skin from base and sides. Thinly slice each artichoke lengthwise, adding it to the bowl with dressing and tossing (this prevents discoloration). Add remaining 1/2 cup cheese and croutons, and toss to combine. Let stand until bread is slightly softened, about 10 minutes.

3. Just before serving, add pea shoots, radishes, and cheesy bits from baking sheet. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon oil and more lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.


Main Dish (Meat)


Creamy chicken with asparagus & tarragon

From BBC Good Food

Ingredients
500g baby new potato, halved
4 skinless chicken breast
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic clove, crushed
350ml chicken stock
small bunch tarragon
175g asparagus, trimmed
3 tbsp reduced-fat crème fraîche

Method
1. Cook the potatoes in a large pan of boiling water for 8-10 mins until tender, then drain and keep warm in the pan. Season the chicken with ground black pepper. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Gently fry the chicken with the onion and garlic for 5 mins until both are lightly browned. Turn over the chicken once and stir the onion regularly.

2. Pour over the stock, add 2 sprigs of tarragon and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 5 mins, then turn the chicken, add the asparagus and cook for 3 mins more. Chop the remaining tarragon.

3. Stir the crème fraîche and tarragon into the pan with the chicken and heat through, stirring, for a few secs. Serve with the new potatoes.


Main Dish (Vegetarian)


Pasta with butter, sage, and Parmesan

From New York Times
Ingredients
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cut pasta, like ziti
2 tablespoons butter
30 fresh sage leaves
1 cup or more freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Method
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; salt it. Cook pasta until it is tender, but not quite done.

2. Meanwhile, place butter in a skillet or saucepan large enough to hold the cooked pasta; turn heat to medium, and add sage. Cook until butter turns nut-brown and sage shrivels, then turn heat to a minimum.

3. When the pasta is just about done, scoop out a cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta. Immediately add it to the butter-sage mixture, and raise heat to medium. Add 3/4 cup of the water, and stir; the mixture will be loose and a little soupy. Cook for about 30 seconds, or until some of the water is absorbed and the pasta is perfectly done.

4. Stir in cheese; the sauce will become creamy. Thin it with a little more water if necessary. Season liberally with pepper and salt to taste, and serve immediately, passing more cheese at the table if you like.


Side Dish


Carrot Couscous with Fresh Chives

Carrot Couscous with Fresh Chives

From Cooking Light

Ingredients
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup uncooked couscous
2/3 cup carrot juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Method
Bring first 4 ingredients to a simmer over medium-high heat; gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Drizzle with oil; fluff with a fork. Sprinkle with chives; toss to combine.


Dessert


Lemon cupcakes with bitters, sorrel, and toasted meringue

From Imbibe Magazine
Ingredients
1½ cups flour (cake if you have it, otherwise all-purpose)
¾ cups sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ cup grape seed oil or vegetable oil
4 egg yolks (approximately 3 ounces)
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon extract, all natural grated rind from 1 lemon
1 tsp. Peychaud’s bitters
5 egg whites (approximately 5 ounces)
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
¼ cup sugar

Method
Sift flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into the bowl of a standing mixer.

In a medium bowl, combine oil, egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon extract, lemon rind, and bitters. Stir to combine.

On a low setting, start to beat the dry mixture and slowly add the wet. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until incorporated. Transfer mixture to another bowl. Wash and dry mixer bowl.

Whip egg whites with whip attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. With the mixer on medium speed, add cream of tarter and slowly add sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.

Scoop a cupful of the stiff egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. This should lighten up the batter.

Transfer the batter to the egg whites and gently fold until there are no more streaks of egg white. Scoop into cupcake cups about two-thirds full and bake at 350 F for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 20 cupcakes.

Sorrel Meringue Frosting
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg whites
Sorrel simple syrup
Splash of Peychaud’s bitters

Whisk the egg whites and sugar over a hot water bath in the standing mixer bowl until it reaches a temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. This only takes only a few of minutes.

Transfer to standing mixer and whisk using whisk attachment at high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on medium speed, drizzle sorrel syrup into the mixer. Splash in a bit of bitters. Beat on high until stiff peaks form.

Sorrel Simple Syrup
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. chopped sorrel

Add sugar and water to a small saucepan set over medium high heat. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until fairly thick, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in sorrel and set aside to cool.

To Assemble: Pipe meringue frosting onto cupcakes. Toast with a culinary or blow torch.


Cocktail


Rosemary Gin Fizz

Ingredients
1/4 cup (2 ounces) gin
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) rosemary simple syrup (recipe below)
1/3 cup (3 ounces) club soda
1 lemon slice (garnish)
1 rosemary sprig (garnish)

Method
1. Combine gin, lemon juice, and rosemary simple syrup in cocktail shaker with ice
2. Shake to combine
3. Pour into glass and add club soda
4. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary

*Prepare simple syrup as you would normally, but add rosemary to the mix. Discard after the sugar dissolves.

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These meals are delicious and highlight microgreens, perfect for those who have nutrition on their minds, but don't want to sacrifice taste or romance.

To get the most out of your meals, try preparing these recipes with Urban Cultivator-grown herbs and vegetables.

Offering an enormous variety of greens, Urban Cultivator gives you the power to harvest your own microgreens, herbs, and vegetables anytime of the year (which is especially important if you're colder areas of the world.

What are your plans for Valentine's Day? Let us know in the comments section!

Happy Valentine's Day!

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