One of the great pleasures in life is the opportunity to share a wonderful home-cooked meal with those you love and care about. While any day is a great day for that, in my opinion, there is something uniquely special about Valentine’s Day that makes it the ideal occasion for an intimate dinner for two or a special family event.

For those of you who are passionate about home cooking like I am, I’ll help you to elevate your meal by mimicking a restaurant experience right at home with a three-course meal including an appetizer, main course and dessert. I’ve got incredible meal ideas using incredible RiceSelect® varieties in gourmet recipes for sophisticated palates. Let’s get started in preparing your own special culinary experience with an extra pinch of creativity to really set your dishes apart.

How To Set the Table for 3-Course Meal

To truly create a memorable and impressive dinner, I suggest adding a simple touch of elegance by setting your table for the event. Choose what works best for you whether you’d like to use a color theme and classics like hearts and roses, or keep it simple with unscented candles and a luxurious table setting.

If you’ve never set your table for a formal dinner, use these tips below. No matter what, it helps to choose a simple tablecloth and maybe add on other table runners for a bit of color or patterns.

  1. Place chargers under your dinner plates for added dimension and color. The dinner plate goes in the center on the charger and a plate for starters goes on top of the dinner plate.

  2. Forks go to the left with the main entree fork beside the plate and the salad or starter fork beside it on the outside. The blade of the knife faces the plate and goes on the right. Spoons, if desired, go to the right of the knife and a dessert spoon or fork should be placed above the plate with the prongs facing to the left.

  3. Glasses go above the knife.

  4. Napkins can be placed under the forks or in a design on the plate! If you use candles on your table, I suggest unscented to avoid clashing with your delicious prepared food.

Now that your table is set to impress, let’s indulge in some wonderful recipe ideas.

Appetizers To Start Your Valentine’s Day Dinner

The first element to a 3-course meal is the appetizer or starter. It’s generally lighter as your entree will be the main event. Some even choose a broth or soup, however, I’ve got a few appetizing finger food ideas to really set the scene for your Valentine’s day dinner.

For something classic and savory, baby mushroom caps are filled with a blend of Royal Blend® Texmati® White, Brown, Wild & Red Rice with Italian sausage, panko, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and thyme. These Wild Rice and Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms are a great starting option. Note: This is a great option to make meatless if desired using a plant-based alternative like roasted eggplant, meatless ground, tofu, tempeh and nutritional yeast for cheese.

If you're looking for an Italian experience, prepare Arborio Rice for delicious Sausage and Sage Arancini filled with a bold blue cheese center.

Looking for something you might enjoy at a black-tie event? These Chicken Salad Puffs using homemade choux pastry filled with an appetizing Jasmati® chicken salad are definitely on the list.

Impressive Main Course Recipes

When it comes to choosing my entrees, whether it be for a holiday event or an intimate dinner, I like to get inspired and try something new.

I pull inspiration from international flavors and cuisines by preparing an Italian Mushroom Risotto with beef broth, a medley of mushrooms and Gruyère cheese. Learn how to perfect your risotto with this exceptional guide from RiceSelect®.

Surf and turf is always a good option with a combination of rich and flavorful beef and satisfying seafood. Try it with a Thai Beef Salad over a bed of Premium Black Rice alongside Tri-color Pearl Couscous with Langoustines or a Peruvian Ceviche, alternatively why not try it with some Orzo pasta or a Pearl Couscous recipe?

For further elegant options with either chicken or duck try these two recipes.

Peanut Sauce Chicken & Rice Recipe

Fresh ginger and garlic are cooked with chicken and rice, then topped with a creamy peanut sauce for a comforting meal to bring you warmth.

Red-Wine Braised Duck with Royal Blend® Rice Recipe

Braised in a luxurious red wine sauce with warm spices, pancetta, and pearl onions, this duck dish is perfect for celebration dinners. For a feast of flavors, serve over a...

Or, try further seafood options.

Seafood Risotto Recipe

With a medley of seafood and fennel, this comforting risotto made with RiceSelect® Arborio Rice is accented with sea kelp for rich flavor.

Wine-Poached Halibut with Celery Root Puree Recipe

Elevate any weeknight dinner with this luxurious recipe for wine-poached halibut with Texmati® White Rice and greens, all served a celery root puree.

Curry Risotto with Baked Salmon Recipe

Creamy curry risotto serves as a gorgeous base for crispy baked salmon in this crowd-pleasing meal. Prepare for a weeknight dinner or as a delectable date night meal.

Side Dishes

For a burst of green, serve a Couscous and Swiss Chard Tabbouleh Salad that will definitely add bright color to your table.

For something stacked and elegant, these Spicy Salmon Avocado Towers are layered to perfection for an appealing side.

Desserts For a Sweet Touch

In my opinion, dessert is the opportunity to enjoy the sweetness of finalizing your meal. Savor each moment and bite! If you previously chose a theme for your special dinner, the dessert can be a nice way to tie everything back together with added color or flavor.


Finish your meal with an elegant touch of Crème Brûlée Rice Pudding made with aromatic and light Jasmati® Rice, vanilla, sugar and cream for a dessert to impress. Or, indulge in a bit of Chocolate Hazelnut Rice Pudding. Add colorful fruit if desired for blue with blueberries or blackberries, red with raspberries or strawberries or yellow with pineapple.

If you’re like me and want to make something new and exciting, try one of the world’s most exceptional rice varieties! RiceSelect® Discoveries™ Premium Sweet Sticky Dessert Rice is perfect for all kinds of rice pudding desserts and more. Try it in a spiced Golden Milk Sticky Rice Pudding or Filipino Sticky Rice Cakes with a coconut caramel glaze.

Part of the beauty of home cooking is that you can easily explore all kinds of tastes from your own kitchen. I love to share that with those that I care about most by preparing a meal for or with them, as I know food has the power to bring people together! Create your own cherished memories with the help of RiceSelect.