Valentine’s Day cooking on a budget

Taking your loved one out for a meal on Valentine’s Day can be romantic, but also very expensive. Our resident chef, Dion Vengatass, shows us how to prepare an affordable three course meal for the lady/man in your life that won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Starter course

Roasted beetroot


2ea large purple beetroot

5ea sprigs of thyme

3tbsp honey

Salt to taste



  • Pre-heat your oven to 180°c
  • Wash and peel the beetroot( wear gloves to prevent staining your hands)
  • Cut beetroot into 2 by 2cm cubes, use all the off cuts as well
  • Mix all the other ingredients with the cubed beetroot and season to taste
  • Place onto a roasting tray, cover with foil
  • Roast for 20 to 30mins until the beetroot is soft and caramelises
  • Allow to cool down before mixing into the salad


Deep fried goat cheese


200gr goat cheese (rolled into small 20gr balls)

Bread crumbs

2 eggs beaten

All-purpose flour



  • Dust the 20gr goats’ cheese balls in the flour
  • Now place them into the beaten egg and coat them properly
  • Repeat the process again
  • Put the eggs straight into the bread crumbs
  • Coat the balls in the bread crumb (be certain to cover the whole goat cheese ball)
  • If not coated properly the goats cheese will break away when deep frying
  • Deep fry until golden brown just before making your salad




50gr rocket leaves washed

4gr picked parsley leaves

50gr watercress washed

20gr red onion thinly sliced

20gr goose berries

2ea lemons juiced

Salt to taste



  • In a salad bowl mix all the salad  ingredients together with the roasted beetroot just before serving
  • Deep fry the goats cheese, drain excess oil on a kitchen towel
  • Place the salad in your serving bowl and garnish with the deep fried goats cheese


Main course

Hake fillets


2x 160gr portions of fresh hake fillets

1ea lemon zest and juice of the lemon

2gr fresh basil

1gr oregano

Salt to taste



  • Preheat your oven at 180°c on grill
  • Place your fish on top of the basil, skin side up, in a roasting tray and  season with the zest and salt
  • Broil in the oven for 15mins
  • Sprinkle the lemon juice just as it comes out of the oven
  • Double check that the fish is cooked, if not leave it in for a further 5 to 10mins, as not all ovens cook at the same time.


Roasted vegetable and sun-dried tomato spaghetti


1small red pepper (cut into 1cm pieces)

1small brinjal (cut into 1cm pieces)

1small onion (cut into 1cm pieces)

3ea small baby marrows (cut into 1cm pieces)

200gr spaghetti

50gr sun-dried tomato pesto

200ml fresh cream

Salt and pepper to taste



  • Begin by cooking the spaghetti.
  • In a large pot with rapidly boiling water season the water with salt until it taste like sea water.
  • Add the spaghetti in and cover the pot, the water has to be boiling at all times to ensure that the spaghetti gets cooked evenly and that the spaghetti does not stick together.
  • Cook for about 8 to 10mins until just cooked.
  • While your spaghetti is cooking place all your vegetables in a roasting tray, season well and roast until soft.
  • In a large pasta pan add the sun-dried tomato pesto and cream.
  • Reduce on a low heat to half, monitor the reducing frequently to avoid it over boiling.
  • When the vegetables and the spaghetti is cooked combine with the tomato cream reduction.
  • Allow to simmer until the pasts is completely cooked and all the flavours marry.
  • Serve immediately while it’s nice and hot.
  • Place into a pasta bowl and serve the hake on top of it.
  • Garnish with fresh shredded basil and freshly ground black pepper.





2ea large egg whites

½ cup castor sugar

½ tsp white vinegar

¼ tsp corn-starch

¼ tsp vanilla extract



  • Preheat your oven at 140°c
  • Place the egg whites into an electric mixer and beat on a high speed until stiff.
  • Switch the speed down to medium.
  • Slowly add the sugar in bit by bit until it’s all done.
  • The egg white should be shiny and glossy now.
  • Now gently fold in the vinegar, corn starch and vanilla.
  • Gently transfer to a piping bag
  • Line a baking tray with foil
  • Pipe 5inch circular shapes, starting from the outside in
  • You can draw a 5inch circle on the foil to guide you if it helps
  • It should be 2inches in height
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake for 1hr and 15mins
  • When done open the oven door slightly and allow to cool in the oven
  • When it is completely cold it will crack and it should be a pale pinkish egg shell colour.
  • Serve with macerated berries and whipped cream


Macerated berries


100gr mixed berries

20gr castor sugar

5ml brandy



  • Combine all ingredients together and allow to macerate for one hour before serving.
  • Best served chilled.