The Paleo diet may be getting more popular by the day, but when it comes to a romantic dinner on the town, finding dishes that don’t come with added sugars or hidden dairy can be surprisingly tricky.
While you could follow the chef into the kitchen and monitor their every move, why not opt for a better (and less awkward) solution by cooking up your own fancy-schmancy Paleo recipes?
Whether you’re channeling your inner caveman or your special someone just really loves ghee, these elegant but easy Paleo recipes can set you up for date nights at home that blow any restaurant menu out of the water—and you can be sure there’s no dairy, gluten, grains, or legumes.
1. Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Garlic Bacon Aioli
If you’ve got a meat-heavy main dish coming up, use the starter course as a chance to offer your dinner date some veggies. Easy to prep and packed with flavor, these Brussels sprouts and their accompanying dip are as addictive as any fried app and much more fun to eat than a salad.
2. Shrimp, Kiwi, and Pomegranate Verrines
“Verrine” sounds like something to get your apron in a twist over, but it simply refers to a layered appetizer of sorts. In this shrimp-based version, all it takes is four ingredients to create a dish that’s elegant, easy, and all sorts of flavorful.
3. Spicy Tuna and Cucumber Bites
If the Paleo thing makes going out for sushi challenging, these let you satisfy the spicy tuna craving at home. They provide some richness from the fish and avocado but aren’t as filling as rice-filled rolls, so they’re perfect to snack on before it’s entrée time.
4. Caramelized Onion and Bacon Compote on Sweet Potato Crostini
To start a romantic meal on a starchy note, turn to these tater “toasts.”Although the sweet potato isn’t as crispy as sourdough, it’s a perfect vehicle for the almost marmalade-like bacon and onion mixture—and isn’t crostini all about the toppings, anyway?
5. Beet Deviled Eggs
People may dismiss deviled eggs as old-fashioned, but there’s a reason we still see them on dining tables and restaurant menus—they’re tasty! To make them a bit healthier (and a bit more 2018), this recipe goes easy on the Paleo mayo and adds a puréed beet into the filling.
6. Cauliflower Hummus With Kale Pesto
Even carb-conscious Paleo people don’t have to give up their favorite dip. Cauliflower steps in for the chickpeas here, and flavored with garlic and tahini, tastes exactly like actual hummus, while a swirl of kale pesto makes it just a bit more special for date night.
7. Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts
Anyone can think of bacon-wrapped asparagus, but dare to be different by using water chestnuts instead. Rolled in coconut sugar and roasted, they may be small, but these crispy, sweet, and salty bundles pack a serious flavor punch.
8. Lamb Chops With a Cauliflower and Carrot Mash
While pork chops are a great weeknight meal, lamb chops feel just a bit more gourmet, so they’re ideal for a romantic night in. Plated alongside juicy roasted cherry tomatoes and a vibrant veggie mash, this recipe will leave your bellies full and your minds blown.
9. Date Night Seared Scallops With Bacon and Zucchini Noodles
Packed with fresh lemon zest and parsley, with bacon providing just a touch of richness, this seafood meal manages to be super satisfying without sending your date into a food coma. Plus, scallops are a well-known aphrodisiac, so there’s that (wink, wink).
10. 15-Minute Filet Mignon With Chimichurri
Looking to impress your date but don’t want to slog? Here’s your dish. A bright, zippy, and best of all, no-cook chimichurri sauce is drizzled over a steak that’s seared in mere minutes, allowing you to achieve maximum wow factor with minimal effort.
11. Chicken Pad Thai
Sure, pad Thai is a popular order-in meal for casual, lazy nights. But turn it into date night-worthy stuff by cooking it yourself and make it unlike any take-out version by giving it a Paleo twist. This recipe does use honey (approved on most Paleo plans!), but if you’re on the fence about it, use your caveman-approved sweetener of choice instead.
12. Blood Orange Rosemary Salmon En Papillote
We eat with our eyes first, so make a good impression with this pretty little package (literally, it’s cooked inside a parchment wrapper). It opens up to reveal colorful layers of striking blood orange, delicate pink salmon, and bright green asparagus.
13. Pasta Carbonara With Light Zucchini Noodles
Don’t let the Paleo thing prevent you from enjoying a date night staple like pasta. The right sauce can turn even zucchini noodles into a pretty extraordinary meal, and with eggs, ghee, and coconut cream, this carbonara doesn’t disappoint.
14. Seafood Pumpkin Spaghetti Squash Pasta
From the spaghetti squash strands mimicking angel hair pasta to the miso-spiked pumpkin and coconut cream sauce and scallops cooked in ghee, not much about this dish is conventional, but every bite is umami heaven. With homemade dishes this creative, who needs restaurants?
15. Steak With Whole30 Bearnaise Sauce
Nothing says special occasion like a steak dinner complete with a fancy French sauce. The tarragon, egg yolks, and shallots are true to the classic recipe, but ghee replacing the butter makes this Bearnaise even better.
16. 6-Ingredient Low-Carb Chicken Marsala
Yup, marsala wine can be part of a Paleo plan! Put to good use in a simple, five-ingredient mushroom sauce, it makes even basic chicken breast the most memorable dish you’ve had in a while.
17. Paleo Dirty Pumpkin and Sage Risotto
If you’re eating like a caveman but your fellow diner isn’t, serve up this nontraditional risotto. The cauliflower rice makes it grain-free, but lots of puréed pumpkin provides that carby comfort to satisfy both palates, while ground meat provides bulk and coconut milk makes it extra creamy. They’ll never complain about the no-rice thing.
18. Pan-Seared Halibut With Citrus Jalapeño Salsa
Date night doesn’t have to always mean decadent, hearty meals. This refreshing halibut dish, with a sweet and spicy fruit and herb salsa, doesn’t skimp on flavor but leaves plenty of room for dessert.
19. Paleo Chicken Parmesan
Don’t let the name of the dish fool you—it’s actually Parmesan free and very much Paleo. And although there isn’t a sprinkling of cheese to be found anywhere on the plate, the almond meal-crusted chicken, rich marinara sauce, and strong basil finish don’t leave much room to miss dairy.
20. Swordfish Steak With Creamy Lemon Basil Sauce
Not used to cooking with swordfish? Even if you’re a first-timer, it’s hard to mess up this recipe. It’s one of the quickest-cooking fish dishes out there, and all you need is a blender to whip up the accompanying sauce.
21. Paleo Almond Joy Lava Cakes
Thanks to this blogger’s super-easy step-by-step video, those of us who have never dared to attempt lava cake at home can now master the art of the molten center. And if the gooey core isn’t irresistible enough, there’s even a swirl of almond butter hiding inside to take it over the top.
22. Paleo Chocolate Coconut Tart
Occupying some delicious zone between a mousse and an ice cream cake, these frozen tarts are the perfect way to end any meal with a flourish. They’re so rich and velvety, it’s hard to believe there’s no refined sugar anywhere in the recipe.
23. Salted Dark Chocolate Mousse
Dark chocolate and sea salt are already a pretty perfect match. Blend both up with avocado and coconut cream, and it’s a dessert dream team.
24. Paleo Hazelnut Skillet Brownies
Made with hazelnut flour, coconut sugar, and grass-fed butter, these brownies are well within Paleo parameters and tastier than anything you’d get out of a boxed mix. You don’t even need plates for these; just grab two spoons and scoop the chocolaty goodness straight from the skillet.
25. 3-Ingredient Chocolate Covered Date Nut Bars
On the bottom, they’re practically energy bars, but the thick, dark chocolate layer on top elevates these date and nut squares to dessert status. They’re as pleasing to the health nut as they are to the chocoholic.
26. Ice Cream Truffles
If you’ve gone all out with the appetizer and main course, a heavy dessert may not be what you’re looking for. In that case, opt for these frozen treats: They’re bite-size to keep you from feeling overstuffed but still let you end the meal on that all-important sweet note.
27. Grain-Free Peach Apricot Crisp
It’s all about natural sources of sweetness in this dessert, which uses both fruit and coconut sugar for flavor. And while most crisp recipes feature oat-based toppings, this one sticks to Paleo-friendly almond flour.