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Setting the Valentine's Table


by Chef Mark Allison, Dole's Director of Culinary Nutrition

I myself love winter because it can be such a cozy time of year, with the fireplace crackling and the house full of good smells from cooking a sumptuous stew or baking a cinnamon cake. Valentine dinners are a particularly special—and cozy—occasion. Choose your partner’s favorite foods and surprise him or her with a wonderful romantic meal and a special table set for two. If you have a fireplace, set a small table close by, and use your best china and crystal. A few candles and a small bowl of fresh flowers will complete the atmosphere.

Even better, plan and prepare your dinner together. The meal doesn't have to (and shouldn't!) be an elaborate or time-consuming chore; if your partner's favorite food is lasagna, serve it in a fancy oven proof dish and enjoy with a healthy salad. Or, this might be the perfect time to splurge on lobster, shrimp, or delicious piece of wild salmon. A tablecloth, candles and a smile can turn the most basic dish into a meal and night to remember for you both. Don't forget the romantic music to set the mood, and end the meal with a bite of dark chocolate. Wear an apron and clean as you go, but don't worry too much about the dirty dishes; leave them till morning and enjoy your time together!

These Valentine's Day celebration recipes are a perfect way to enjoy a special night for two, on an otherwise cold and dreary winter’s day.

Grilled Salmon with Balsamic Glaze

Serves 2



  1. In a small saucepan, heat the balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon, and garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer over a low heat until syrupy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.
  2. Heat grill to medium heat. Brush salmon fillets with olive oil and season fillets with black pepper.
  3. Place salmon fillets carefully on the grill and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Turn over and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes or until the salmon is flaky and opaque.
  4. Brush salmon fillets with balsamic glaze, grill for 1 more minute.  Remove from grill.
  5. To serve, plate salmon and lightly drizzle with left over glaze. Serve with Sunset Slaw.

Sunset Slaw

Serves 4



  1. Add the Cajun seasoning, red pepper flakes, cumin and honey to a large bowl. Add the zest and juice of the lime. Whisk in the oil.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix together well, cover with plastic, and place into the refrigerator to infuse the flavors for at least 1 hour. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Published February 1, 2016

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