Three very different menus that all say those three little words

One will last long in the memory, but won’t take long to prepare. Another is designed for a date with you and your best mates, and the last is a loved-up feast full of feeling and frills…

THE MENU FOR MATES

How best to sum up Grace’s mindset as the 14th arrives? Valentine, schmalentine. Less light the candlesticks, more stick on 500 Days of Summer. Her preferred plan is to invite a few friends over for a night of fun, films and food.

So with that in mind, we created a menu packed with flavours that ramp up the not-so-romantic revelry: hot spinach dip shows garlic plenty of love (because when did you last embrace garlic on 14 February?); a sandwich bar comes fully loaded with steak, caramelised onions and maple bacon (be still, beating heart!). And to finish, rocky road ice cream cones. Don’t be stupid, Cupid – hands off...

THE EXPRESS MENU

With baby Ellie now on board, Adam can’t devote as much time as usual to preparing a romantic Valentine’s Day meal for his wife, Eloy. So we dreamt up a no-fuss menu that will ensure their evening is as special as ever.

From the truffled crostini starter to the plush ice-cool, no-cook seafood platter and chocolate and cherry pud, the lot can be prepared in just over an hour. The whole nine yards, in the fastest of times…

THE TRUE ROMANTIC MENU

For Nick and Salwa, this Valentine’s Day is their first as a married couple. So a celebratory feast, all of it a touch fancy – and much of it doable in advance – is in order.

The procession of flavour starts with steak Caesar salad, and is followed by baked fish with store-bought gnocchi (because a wise old sage once said that nothing puts the brakes on romance like making gnocchi from scratch). And to draw the meal to a close, grown-up (and bake-ahead) dark chocolate biscotti, served oh-so-simply with cheese.