Roasted Radish Salad with Butter-Thyme Dressing | Naturally Ella

In the grand scheme of weeks, my husband and I don’t get out very much. We work, we hang out with our son, we repeat. However, our times after our son goes to bed are ones we cherish. It’s the time we unwind. The time we connect with each other about our day. That time is extremely special.

While most nights we eat dinner as a family, some nights I reserve for a ‘date night’. We spend our unwinding around the table, enjoying a meal that’s a bit more involved than our normal dinners. Most of the time I prep ahead and finish while my husband is working his way through bedtime routine. This way, when he’s done, we’re ready to eat.

Think of these ideas as more of a starting place. I just worked my way through the archives and picked out the recipes I most enjoy. Everything has a main, a side vegetable, a salad, and dessert. Every meal is loaded with vegetables and I’m relying on my friends to bring the dessert (because we all have to play to our strengths!)

Berbere Chickpeas and Chard with Farro | Naturally Ella

No 1. The Unusual Flavors Date-Night Dinner.

I’m leading with this set, primarily because it uses some bolder flavors and some less-common produce. I love the spice level with the berbere seasoning and the balance of the tender turnips. Plus, I know people are often looking for more recipes with chard and turnips. Best of all, you could easily swap out the chard and just use turnip greens (a bit more on the bitter side but would work well with the flavor of the berbere!)

Pumpkin Paneer Curry | Naturally Ella

No 2. Curry, forever.

I feel like one of the ways I show a person I love them is by making fried cheese. Sometimes that fried cheese is used in tacos, other times, it’s curry. This pumpkin curry has a smooth, velvety sauce which I like to balance with a bit of heat from the chili roasted broccoli.

Lentil Broccoli Bites with Lemon Cream Sauce

No 3. A Variation ‘Meat’ and Potatoes.

My husband was never a ‘meat and potato’ kind of guy. However, I find that it’s hard to always escape my Midwestern food upbringing. These dishes are about as close as I get. Lentil bites smothered in a cream sauce provide the ‘meat’ while the romesco potato salad stands in for a more traditional mashed potato.

No 4. Vegan.

I think this might be one of my favorites. This vegan meal shows you don’t need to overload a veg meal with cheese. The risotto’s creaminess comes from a delicious walnut cream while the spicy cauliflower and avocado salad help balance the richness.

Kale Pasta with Sunflower Cream Sauce | Naturally Ella

No 5. Lemons, Winter’s friend

Winter in California is all about citrus. I love the sunflower cream sauce with the pasta. It’s bright, light, and vegan. Paired with a beautiful persimmon salad and a fun take on beets; it’s hard to go wrong. This meal is sure to put a smile on your face.

Spinach and Red Lentil Masala | @naturallyella

No 6. Flavor for all.

Finally, I like to come in with big flavor. Nearly everyone who makes the lentils find it becomes a staple. The flavor is amazing and it’s one of the more filling vegetarian mains. I like to balance this with a lot of vegetables. The green beans are a nice, easy side while the radish salad showcases this beautiful vegetable in a unique and fun way. Don’t miss the teff brownies either- they probably should have been dessert for every meal.

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