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 »

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.

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.

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.

Lobster Fra Diavolo

This spicy seafood pasta features large pieces of sweet lobster tossed with bucatini and a fresh, flavorful tomato sauce.

Fennel Baked in Milk

In this creamy dish, the fennel is braised in milk until it becomes tender.

Mussels in White Wine

Serve these garlicky mussels with crusty bread. See the recipe for Mussels in White Wine

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 »

Corsican Lemon Mousse

This rich, silky mousse brightened with tangy lemons makes an elegant end to a meal.

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. Get the recipe for Tagliatelle with Poppy Seeds and Prosciutto »

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 »

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. Get the recipe for Chocolate Mousse »

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.

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 »

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 »

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.

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.