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The Short Version: The ingredients for a top-notch date are rather simple. All you need is yourself, your date, and something to talk about or enjoy together. Dinner dates offer the perfect combination of conversation and indulgence, and you can up the intimacy by preparing and enjoying the meal at home. American cookbook author Mollie Katzen recommends starting your dates on a high note by choosing simple, stress-free recipes that won’t break the bank. In the past 40 years, she has written 12 bestselling cookbooks to highlight beginner-friendly vegetarian dishes. Her down-to-earth instructions help home cooks bring out the flavors in fresh fruits and vegetables. Anyone can whip up a delicious and healthful meal at home by turning to Mollie’s recipes for inspiration and guidance.
Dating can get expensive when you’re going out to eat at restaurants every other night. Even if you skip the appetizers and choose happy hour drinks, you could end up shelling out hundreds of dollars a month on dinner dates. Which may or may not be worth it to you.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly alternative to dining out, you should consider cooking at home. It’s fun, easy, and won’t break the bank. Need some ideas for date-worthy recipes? Mollie Katzen has you covered.
Throughout her career, Mollie has written 12 recipe books chock-full of hearty recipes developed over decades of practice in her own kitchen. This self-taught cook simplifies mealtime with her straightforward tips.
You can make anything from vegetable casseroles to decadent desserts using her library of recipes. Mollie has spent years writing vegetarian recipes designed to take the stress out of mealtime prep.
In 2007, Mollie was inducted into the James Beard Award for Cookbook Hall of Fame. Today, she has over 6 million books in print and is listed as one of The New York Times’ all-time bestselling cookbook authors. Daters can rely on her recipes to help them create memorable and affordable meals in the intimacy of their own homes.
“You can tell a lot about a person by cooking with one another,” she told us. “It’s really fun to have a task to do with somebody on a date. There’s something about making dinner side by side that helps you get to know someone in a natural way.”
Mollie didn’t plan on being a chef. She started working at a restaurant in New York City to pay the bills while she pursued a career as a painter. She wanted to be in the art world, but she knew she had to have a second job to help make ends meet. She had always enjoyed baking and cooking as a child, so she thought working close to a kitchen would be a good fit for her.
She began shadowing the chefs in the restaurant and asking them questions about what they were doing. She wanted to learn about cooking from professionals. It didn’t feel like work to her.
“I basically apprenticed myself,” she said. “I was learning by watching. I loved the fact that I was learning these skills without going to school.”
Eventually, Mollie worked her way up the ladder and became a recipe developer, meaning she was in charge of creating recipes to go on the menu. While she worked at the restaurant, she kept a journal documenting her cooking insights and experiments. When people began asking her for her recipes, she decided to copy them out in recipe booklets. She wrote down her favorite recipes, drew illustrations, and began selling her handwritten books to friends and family members.
Word of Mollie’s recipes spread from person to person, and she soon became a prominent cookbook author known for her emphasis on vegetarian recipes.
“It was a fun project that’s still selling,” she said. “Talking about plant-based cuisine was subversive at the time, but I’m not against meat — I just don’t cook with it.”
Whether you’re cooking with your date or cooking for your date, it’s best to stick to simple, foolproof recipes that won’t stress you out too much. Fortunately, simple recipes are Mollie’s specialty. Over the years, she has honed her recipes to showcase a few quality ingredients and not usurp much of the cook’s time in the kitchen.
“The actual cooking can be simple because the ingredients you’re using are so good to begin with. You don’t want to cover the goodness of those ingredients,” she said.
Mollie often relies on fresh produce to brighten meatless dishes. Her cauliflower and cheese pie is a particular favorite among readers. This filling pie combines eggs, shredded cheese, potatoes, cauliflower, and onions in a nine-inch baking dish. You can find the original recipe in the 40th edition of her famed Moosewood Coobook, which she wrote by hand in 1974.
“It’s a really nice starter recipe for a couple,” she said. “You can add a salad or a dessert, and you’re done. It’s an easy romantic meal that’s not too stressful because you don’t have to worry about how it’ll come out.”
You can easily throw together a salad and top it with Mollie’s homemade vinaigrette to impress a date with a light and tasty first course. To top the night off, you can share a slice of decadent Chocolate Eclipse, a chocolate cake swimming in a pudding-like fudge sauce.
Mollie encourages beginning chefs and home cooks to gain confidence in the kitchen by making easy recipes that bring a lot of flavor to the table. You can leaf through her cookbooks to find culinary inspiration on your next date night.
Mollie has been at this a long time, and she has received five-star reviews from home cooks across the generations. People have sent her letters saying they grew up making her recipes and now are handing them down to their own children.
MissK called Mollie her all-time favorite cookbook author, saying she’d been relying on these recipes since the 1980s. “These dishes are simple, healthy, and delicious,” she said. “Without impossible-to-find or super-expensive ingredients.”
An Amazon customer praised “The Heart of the Plate” for giving cooks the freedom to enhance recipes and learn how the ingredients change the flavors of the dish.
“I’m able to be more creative and understand what matters for a particular recipe,” the reviewer said. “Many guests have left with the reference to this book.”
“Ms. Katzen is the exemplar of a healthful cooking style that has no dogma and offers no apologies.” — The New York Times
Mollie’s reputation often precedes her, and home cooks from all walks of life turn to her when they want to add more veggies to their diets. As S. L. Pieper said in a five-star review, “I purchased this book because I need to start eating more green stuff, and Mollie’s books are famous.”
“This book is beautiful, the recipe instructions are clear enough for even me to follow, and the results are good to great from every recipe we’ve tried,” said Joseph S. “My wife is happy with ‘The Heart of the Plate.’ That’s high praise.”
You don’t have to go out to have an incredible date. Cooking a meal for or with your romantic partner can be a fantastic way to spice up your evenings together. By staying in and avoiding the crowded restaurant scene, you can spend hours talking and laughing together in a cozy, private setting.
If you’re looking for some recipes to get your date nights cooking, you can rely on Mollie Katzen to give you the ingredients for a hearty meal. Mollie has spent decades curating recipes and writing simple instructions to help home cooks of all ages prepare tasty dishes. She said she feels incredibly fortunate to be able to share her cooking knowledge with people who love plant-based food as much as she does.
“It’s unbelievable. I still don’t take it for granted,” she said. “It feels very gratifying — even if I only reached one person with my books — it’d be worth it to me.”