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A budget-friendly Valentine’s Day dinner

by Francesca Sleet

published on 10 February 2023

Celebrating Valentine’s Day often centres around a romantic meal, but not all of us have the budget for a fancy dinner out or a home-cooked spread packed with luxury ingredients. However, when it comes to food, expensive doesn’t automatically mean better and you don’t need to break the bank to serve up a romantic feast for your loved one this Valentine’s Day. Featuring a choice of two classic pasta recipes from Jamie Oliver (including a meat-free option), a fresh seasonal salad as a starter or side, and a simple but decadent dessert from Melissa Hemsley, these recipes use just a handful of basic ingredients to help keep costs to a minimum.

Fennel, Mint and Orange Salad

Fennel, Mint and Orange Salad

by Russell Norman
from Venice

With salty olives, punchy fennel, and segments of orange (seasonal blood oranges would add a pop of colour), this texture-packed salad can be served as an appetiser before the main event or as a fresh side to your creamy pasta.

Easy Sausage Carbonara

Easy Sausage Carbonara

This five-ingredient pasta is easy to make and utterly delicious. Using sausage meat makes this a little more affordable than a steak or other meat-centric dish, and a generous sprinkle of parmesan adds a rich saltiness to the silky sauce.

Jamie Oliver’s Sweet Leek Carbonara with Fresh Thyme, Garlic, Cracked Black Pepper and Parmesan

Jamie Oliver’s Sweet Leek Carbonara with Fresh Thyme, Garlic, Cracked Black Pepper and Parmesan

This simple leek carbonara is the perfect veggie alternative main course, featuring buttery soft leeks cooked until soft stirred through the classic carbonara pasta. Top with plenty of cracked black pepper and a little extra cheese if needed (look for vegetarian hard cheese to make the dish fully veggie).

Melissa Hemsley’s Three-Ingredient Chocolate Pots

These super simple three-ingredient chocolate pots can be made in advance and popped in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Rich and decadent, these are the perfect way to end a romantic meal. Melissa’s recipe serves six, so reduce the recipe and keep an eye out for small packs of dates to keep the cost down.

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