The last time I was in a restaurant on Valentine’s Day was when I owned one. That was the 90s, and Goldie’s by the Bridge always put out a sweet spread for our guests— a lover’s feast, if you will. But we were unique, because we took cuisine and service very seriously, EVERYDAY.
You’ll notice that most restaurants offer a fixed menu for Valentine’s Day, and the dining snob in me can’t help but critique their approach. One of the big three “dummy’s nights out” each year, Valentine’s Day, in terms of the dining culture associated with it, tends to disappoint rather than impress; restauranting is a business after all, and they depend on nights like these to fill the reservation book, ratchet up the turnover, and squeeze more out of their service staff. I laid this all out in 2012 on our blog, and one read-through might convince you that your favorite restaurant won’t need your business on that night, and that perhaps a romantic dinner at home will fulfill your desires more appropriately.
This year, I offer you a quick-to-prepare recipe of many colors, with three types of wine to match. Other than the heart shape of the bison patties (optional), there’s nothing gimmicky here; just healthy, decadent deliciousness to sharpen your senses, letting you focus on your lover’s gaze rather than trying to flag down a busy restaurant server. And the best part: there’s no check afterward!
Valentine Bison Patties, Quinoa, Squash, Broccoli Rabe, & Pinto Beans
10 oz Chopped Bison (or desired meat)
3 cups Squash, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Broccoli Rabe, chopped
1 cup Pinto Beans, well rinsed
1-2 cups cooked Quinoa
Red Pepper flakes
Form bison into 2 heart-shaped patties, 1-inch thick. Hold aside.
Cook squash in microwave until tender, depending on size of microwave-safe dish, covered with a lid or a damp paper towel. This will take between 2 and 6 minutes. Tender is when the end of a sharp knife can get to the center of the cube without resistance.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil in a large sauté pan. Add garlic and let cook until you can smell the fragrance of the garlic. Add broccoli rabe and sauté for a minute. Add pinto beans and continue to sauté. Once broccoli rabe is wilted, take the ingredients out of pan and put into serving dish. Put heat to high, and add a ½ tbsp olive oil. Add squash and let brown then shake the pan and let cook for about 2-3 minutes, shaking the squash. Add back broccoli rabe, beans and quinoa. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with large lid to keep warm.
Sear bison patties on a hot skillet until brown on both sides. Then, transfer patties to a convection oven preheated to 350. Bake to desired doneness. Plate the sauté and serve patties atop.
You can acquire these selections from our strategic partner Suburban Wines & Spirits. Serve the preferred style, or be devilish and serve all three!
Domaine Eugene Carrel Vin de Savoie Brut Rosé $17 Purchase Here
Nothing looks sexier in a glass than a bold, gushing, pink bubbly. This blend of red varieties from the Savoy region in eastern France is dry and remarkably serious for a sparkler in its price range. Perfect to get your senses and your palate in the mood.
Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, Napa Valley ’10 $50 Purchase Here
The expensive-and-worth-it selection comes from a celebrated estate in Napa. The Chardonnay they produce is not the cookie-cutter Napa style (i.e. slathered in toasty, buttery sweetness). Theirs is a restrained and sophisticated example that pairs beautifully with the sauté, and holds up well to the bison.
Bow & Arrow Gamay Noir, Willamette Valley ’11 $25 Purchase Here
This Oregon Gamay is my favorite new cru Beaujolais knockoff. It’s a bright red-fruited and aromatic Gamay that avoids feeling ripe or jammy. Just a pretty, lean, low-tannin American red with complex flavors that will play nicely with the leanness in the dish.
For more delectable ideas to help keep Valentine’s dinner ultra-local, see my LearnVest offering from 2011, and my cute little Goldie’s Table Matters recipe idea from 2 years ago. Here’s to a romantic 2/14/14!