Simple Dishes for Two

An elegant dinner for two doesn't have to require hours and hours of prep time. From spicy lobster fra diavolo to sweet and sour pork chops, these 17 recipes—all easy to scale down for two people—strike a balance between easy and impressive.

Maiale in Agrodolce (Sweet and Sour Glazed Pork Chops)
Honey and balsamic vinegar are the sweet and sour agents in this recipe, which pairs especially well with stewed sweet peppers. See the recipe for Maiale in Agrodolce »Michael Kraus
Mustard and White Wine Braised Chicken
Mustard and White Wine Braised Chicken
An adaptation of a regional French classic, this version swaps out the traditional Dijon in favor of a grainy, seeded mustard.Helen Rosner
Halibut with Marinated Chanterelles and Chamomile
Inspired by a story that first appeared in our June/July 2010 issue, chef Tom Colicchio created this beautiful dish of halibut with chanterelle mushrooms and pleasingly bitter fresh chamomile.Ingalls Photography
Toast with Roasted Beet Dip, Smoked Salmon, and Watercress
Toast with Roasted Beet Dip, Smoked Salmon, and Watercress
Roasting beets and puréeing them with a little balsamic vinegar makes a sweet, earthy spread that's a perfect base for slices of smoked salmon and peppery watercress.Helen Rosner
Lobster Fra Diavolo
Lobster Fra Diavolo
This spicy seafood pasta features large pieces of sweet lobster tossed with bucatini and a fresh, flavorful tomato sauce.Todd Coleman
Fennel Baked in Milk
In this creamy dish, the fennel is braised in milk until it becomes tender.Todd Coleman
Mussels in White Wine
Serve these garlicky mussels with crusty bread. See the recipe for Mussels in White WineAndré Baranowski
Parsley and Pancetta Salad
Crisp, salty pancetta, earthy parsley, and lemon combine beautifully in this salad from Houston's Dolce Vita restaurant. See the recipe for Parsley and Pancetta Salad »Todd Coleman
Corsican Lemon Mousse
Corsican Lemon Mousse
This rich, silky mousse brightened with tangy lemons makes an elegant end to a meal.Todd Coleman
Tagliatelle with Poppy Seeds and Prosciutto
Tagliatelle with Poppy Seeds and Prosciutto
Poppy seeds lend their toasty aroma to a creamy pasta dish based on one served by chef Matthew Accarrino at SPQR in San Francisco.Maxime Iattoni
Warm Salad with Jerusalem Artichokes, Bacon, and Radicchio
In a hearty salad adapted from Jamie Oliver's cookbook Cook With Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook (2007, Hyperion), the warm but crisp ingredients make a perfect wintery salad. **See the recipe for Warm Salad with Jerusalem Artichokes, Bacon, and Radicchio »Larry Nighswander
Chocolate Mousse
Chocolate Mousse
This simple yet sophisticated, airy yet intense concoction has been a hit with home cooks in America at least since the New York Times published its first recipe for the dessert in 1955.Todd Coleman
Trout with Brown Butter and Almonds (Trout Meunière Amandine)
Trout with Brown Butter and Almonds (Trout Meunière Amandine)
Fried fish with a brown butter sauce and almonds is a French classic, and one of the most popular dishes at the beloved New Orleans restaurant Galatoire's.Todd Coleman
Warm Soft Chocolate Cake
This signature dessert is loved for the unfailingly delightful surprise of the cakes' oozing centers. See the recipe for Warm Soft Chocolate Cake »Quentin Bacon
Japanese-style Linguine with Clams
The dried seaweed nori lends a Japanese flavor to this classic dish. See the recipe for Japanese-Style Linguine with Clams »Todd Coleman
Brown Butter Pasta
Brown Butter Pasta
Chef Gabrielle Hamilton of New York City's Prune restaurant gave us her recipe for this delicious pasta, which is tossed in brown butter and pine nuts, then topped with sunny-side-up eggs.Todd Coleman
Pan-Fried Steaks with Mustard Cream Sauce (Paves du Mail)
Pan-Fried Steaks with Mustard Cream Sauce (Paves du Mail)
The crispy bits and juices left in a skillet after frying steaks make a delicious base for a creamy, cognac-laced pan sauce.Landon Nordeman