Cooking your way through a lavish meal for an intimate date night or special occasion might initially seem like a tall order. After all, many people want to impress their significant other with delicious, luxe dishes that they rarely eat otherwise — so you may immediately think of pricey ingredients or a ridiculously complex tasting menu. But creating a memorable-yet-shareable meal for two isn't as hard as you might think. There can be romance in everyday ingredients and dishes that you don't have to fret over.
Whether you're thinking of an elegant fish entrée or a more soulful riff on chicken or steak (or an entirely vegetarian meal!), these light dinner ideas are perfect for sharing. While some of the following recipes can easily be halved in order to make two servings, most of these healthy dinners for two are perfect for a memorable meal-prepped work lunch the next day. You may have to run out for a few fresh ingredients — a filet of steak, a bouquet of herbs, sliced parmesan — but most of these meals come together using kitchen staples you already have on hand. These dinners incorporate lots of lean proteins (salmon, we're looking at you!) and plenty of hearty vegetables alongside whole grains and other healthy sides. We're thinking of new ways you can serve them (atop a bed of noodles in a savory broth, perchance?) in order to make something as routine as zucchini feel super special for your cozy meal.
You'll be happy you didn't splurge on a night out on the town after making one or two of these delicious recipes for your big night in. Pair these duo dinner ideas with a lighter dessert or a few better-for-you bites to serve with a glass of wine before you both sit down for dinner — you'll find that a homemade three-course meal feels like it's made with so much more love than anything you could have ordered elsewhere.
Cut some of the ground beef you may use in this classic pasta dish by swapping in a heart-healthy amount of lentils, which are slowly sautéed to perfection. Freshly shaved parmesan provides a creamy note alongside the bite of this pan sauce, which is ready in under an hour.
A pan Marsala sauce is a classic among classics, but this lightened-up version comes together in just 30 minutes. Thanks to low-sodium broth, the dish is rich and flavorful while also minding sodium levels and calories.
Set out an array of toppings for a fun, hand-held dinner for two.
These fresh vegetables is simply gorgeous — and you'll balk knowing you can dress up a plate of your favorite noodles in just 25 minutes flat. At under 500 calories, this is a pasta dinner you can feel great about.
Earthy flavors abound in this zingy dish inspired by the Nordic diet. The addition of mushrooms can help make the kale seem that much more buttery.
We lightened up a beloved flavor combination, joining this take on sesame chicken with crunchy carrots and springy couscous. The custom spice rub used here comes together with six robust ingredients, but the meal is ready in 40 minutes tops.
This better-for-you update on a classic takeout dish cuts the calories and carbs in half. Shrimp is also full of calcium and vitamin C and the broccoli in this dish packs in the fiber, too.
Eating these rich umami bowls of perfectly steeped vegetables is perfect for when the weather drops. If you're looking for extra oomph, add your choice of a lean protein into the mix.
How can you lighten up a pork dinner? Skip the carb-heavy potatoes, pasta, and rice, and simply opt for a light spring salad.
Intensely flavorful but under 400 calories, this lean white fish is bathed in marinara sauce and placed atop a bed of spinach. Zucchini adds a bite to the spinach medley that is lovely.
A nice "steak" dinner is still possible even if you can't eat meat. You can serve these impressive vegan steaks alongside a healthy side dish of your choice.
A stylish vegetarian dinner, this jam-packed noodle bowl combines the best aspects of beloved Asian-inspired flavors with fresh produce. It can be served as a starter, too.
Ditching carb-heavy bread allows you to enjoy rich cuts of beef without any guilt — and building these handheld bites are half the fun.
A classic Italian-American recipe, this tangy marriage of shrimp, mussels, and cod come together in a single simmering pot. You'll want to serve it with a hunk of baked bread.
It's hard to believe something so tasty and colorful can be made in as little as 15 minutes! It's a light take on a classic scampi, but hearty all the same.
If you're looking for a low-effort dinner idea that you can make together, this satisfying flatbread comes together with just five ingredients. Cooking together can be quite romantic — especially when a fresh pie is involved!
If you're planning on dining al fresco, nothing's better than a simple bowl of fresh ingredients. Grilled plums add a sweet and tangy note to this summery herb-packed salad bowl.
This modern take on a classic cassoulet stew is best enjoyed on cold, blustery nights. You can serve it with a side of crunchy veggies or a hearty salad, or simply dig in with a spoon.
This pasta sauce is still creamy and sinfully delicious, but the amount of dairy used here is drastically reduced thanks to the addition of red pepper and garlic.
White wine, butter, parmesan cheese, and fresh lemon juice come together to make the luscious base of this robust risotto dish. Alongside fresh peas, this is a decadent dish that any diner would love.
A tropical getaway in a bowl, this flash-marinated mix of sushi-grade tuna, cucumber, scallions, and onions feels super sophisticated, even though it takes only 20 minutes to execute.
Spring's garden haul is a perfect match for a lean, zesty chicken breast, dressed in coconut cream and lime juice. Since each serving contains under 300 calories, you'll definitely have room to pair this healthy chicken dinner with a side of your choice (or dessert!)
Chopped chives, lemon zest, and dollops of ricotta help transform this pasta dinner's pan sauce into a creamy concoction that's not meant to be missed. At under 500 calories per serving, this pea-infused pappardelle is as light as it is delicious.
Searching for a delicious starter to whet the appetite? This rather straightforward salad comes together with five ingredients, smartly ditching croutons for a heavy dash of granola instead.
You only need one pot to brew this rich soup that incorporates pesto, broccoli, and spinach to take on its bright green hue. The addition of silky mushrooms and hefty orzo makes this bowl feel more like a meal than just a starter.
Who said pizza always has to be heavy? This fresh take on a flatbread-style pie is best eaten with a fork and knife, perfect for pizza-loving couples.
Another healthy appetizer idea, these veggie-forward rolls are best served with a dash of fish sauce.
The tangy sweet glaze seen here isn't actually reduced in a sauté pan over the stove. Believe it or not, you simply zap five ingredients for 60 seconds in the microwave!
A reliable fan-favorite, salmon can be roasted to perfection just by sautéing the fish for five minutes on each side. Meanwhile, your vegetable medley can soften up on a sheet pan in a hot oven.
Classic chicken parmesan can pack in over 600 calories and 30 grams of fat in a single meal. Keep all your favorite flavors, but lower those numbers a bit with our healthy makeover.