8 Cheap & Easy Recipes To Impress Your Dinner Date


Whether it’s your first date or your 50th, we’ve got easy dinner and dessert recipes that won’t break the bank…

Want to knock their socks off with your kitchen skills but not sure your everyday spag bol will do the job? You’ve come to the right page.

These recipes aren’t difficult. And they don’t have a billion ingredients you’ve never heard of. Because the thing about impressing your dinner date isn’t always about being fancy.

You can whip up something delicious that’ll keep your date happy with simple ingredients from your local Aldi. Trust us, they’re going to love it.

Recipes For Dinner

1. Gnocchi with lemon & chive pesto

recipes zanui
Original recipe from BBC GoodFood here.

Prep: 10 mins / Cook: 5 mins


1 garlic clove

A small bunch of parsley

A small bunch of chives

2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

2 tbsp grated parmesan

zest and juice of 1 lemon

4 tbsp olive oil

500g pack of gnocchi


  1. Place chopped garlic, parsley, chives, pine nuts, cheese and lemon in a bowl.
  2. Season well and stir together with the olive oil and lemon juice.
  3. Cook the gnocchi in salted, boiling water following the pack instructions (trust us, your date won’t know you cheated unless you tell them!)
  4. Drain well and tip into a serving bowl.
  5. Toss with the pesto and top with grated cheese.

2. Skillet Chicken & Zucchini Parmesan

recipes zanui
Original recipe from Simple Bites here.

Prep: 10 mins / Cook: 1 hour


1 jar tomato sauce (the kind you use for pasta)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2-3 tsp olive oil

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

1 medium zucchini

8 fresh mozarella cheese slices

Fresh parsley and basil


  1. Cut each chicken breast in half and pound a few times per side using a meat tenderiser. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place in an oiled skillet pan on a medium heat and cook until browned.
  3. Sprinkle with parmesan then top with tomato sauce and cook on a medium-low heat with the lid on for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid and arrange the zucchini on top. Layer with mozzarella cheese and replace the lid. Cook for a further 15 minutes.
  5. Top with fresh herbs as a garnish and serve with pasta or rice.

3. Thai Fish Fillets Steamed in a Bag

recipes zanui
Original recipe from Go Make Me here.

Total prep/cooking time: 20 minutes


4 white fish fillets (e.g. Ocean Perch)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Bok choy


1/2 red chilli with seeds removed

1 clove garlic

4 spring onions

1 tbsp grated ginger

1/3 soy sauce

1/4 cup mirin

1/2 tsp sesame oil

2 tbsp brown sugar

Juice of half a lemon



  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Tear off 2 long sheets of baking paper and set them aside.
  2. Mix all marinade ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Rub the fish fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper before placing in a pre-heated, non-stick pan for 1-2 minutes each side (to seal the fish, not to cook). Remove the fish and set aside.
  4. In the same pan, add oil and garlic and cook for a minute. Add the marinade and simmer gently until sugar is dissolved.
  5. Take baking paper and place 2-3 leaves of bok choy then the fish on top.
  6. Fold the paper so the edges meet then make little folds to close half-way. Pour in some marinade from your pan and seal the paper pocket. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  7. To serve, tear open the bag and top with coriander and a side of rice.

4. Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes

recipes zanui
Original recipe from Minimalist Baker here.

Prep: 5 mins / Cook: 25 minutes


4 medium sweet potatoes

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp each of cumin, coriander, cinnamon, paprika

Cherry tomatos

Fresh parsley

Garlic Herb Sauce:

1/4 cup hummus

Juice of half a lemon

3/4 tsp dried dill (or 2-3 tsp fresh dill)

3 cloves minced garlic

Water, or unsweetened almond milk


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degress Celsius and line a large baking tray with foil
  2. Rinse and scrub sweet potatoes then cut in half length-wise to speed up cooking time.
  3. Toss chickpeas, olive oil and spices into the baking tray.
  4. Rub sweet potatoes with olive oil and place face down on the tray then roast in the oven for 25 minutes.
  5. Prepare sauce by mixing all ingredients in a mixing bowl, adding only enough water or almond milk to combine in a pourable sauce.
  6. Once sweet potatoes are tender, remove from the oven and flip them flesh-side up. Smash the insides a little bit.
  7. To serve, top with the chickpeas, sauce, and a garnish of cherry tomatoes and parsley.

Recipes for Dessert

1. Chocolate Bourbon Cake

recipes zanui
Original recipe from My Recipes here.


1/2 cup bourbon

1 1/3 cups sugar

340g bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup butter cut into pieces

5 large eggs

1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder

Coffee Bourbon Syrup

1/2 cup  sugar

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup strongly brewed coffee

1 tbsp bourbon


  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Grease a cake pan and line the bottom with baking paper.
  2. Combine bourbon and sugar in a large saucepan then bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and add the chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until blended. Fold in the flour and cocoa powder.
  4. Pour batter into the cake pan and set in a bain-marie with 1 inch of hot water.
  5. Bake at 190 degrees for 1 hour, 15 minutes. Baste with the Coffee Bourbon syrup every 15 minutes until the cake forms a crust on top.
  6. Remove when cooking and cool before serving.

2. Ricotta & Honey Tart

recipes zanui
Original recipe from Chow Hound here.



8 tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 granulated sugar

1 tbsp grated lemon zest

1/4 tsp fine salt

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour


1 pound riccotta cheese, drained

2 large eggs

1/2 cup honey

1 tbsp grated lemon zest

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted


  1. Place the melted butter, sugar, zest and salt into a large bowl and stir until combined. Add the flour and stir until a dough forms.
  2. Spread dough over a round tart pan with a removable bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. When the tart shell is chilled, prick it all over with a fork and pop in the oven. Bake until golden brown, for around 20-25 minutes.
  4. For the filling, place the ricotta, eggs, honey, zest and cinnamon into a  food processor and mix together well.
  5. Spread the filling into the warm tart shell and sprinkle with almonds. Bake until the centre of the tart is just set (about 25-30 minutes).
  6. Cool completely before serving.

3. Chocolate Fondue

recipes zanui
Original recipe from Simply Recipes here.


340g milk or dark chocolate, roughly chopped

1 cup heavy whipping cream

A pinch of salt

Strawberries, banana pieces, dried apricots, apple


  1. Heat the cream over a medium heat in a small saucepan until bubbles begin to show, then slow to a simmer.
  2. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Transfer to a fondue pot or warm bowl. Arrange your fruit around the dipping sauce.
  4. Add a spoonful of whipping cream and stir if the mix becomes stiff.

4. Thin French Apple Tart

recipes zanui
Original recipe from My Recipes here.


1/2 pack of refrigerated pie dough (store-bought)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

900g Golden Delicious apples, thinly sliced

2 1/2 tbsp honey

1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
  2. Place dough on a lightly floured surface, roll out and place in a pizza pan.
  3. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the dough.
  4. Arrange apple pieces over the dough, working from the outside to the centre and sprinkle the top with more cinnamon and sugar.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Combine honey and vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl for 40 seconds. Brush the glaze over the tart and serve warm with ice-cream on the side.


Kyra Thomsen is a writer and editor from Sydney, NSW. She has experience in copywriting, blogging, journalism, and social media. After completing two degrees in Creative Writing and English Literature in 2013 she began work with the content team at Zanui. Kyra was the winner of the 2012 Questions Writing Prize and her work has been published in print and online for numerous sources, including Writer's Edit, Seizure, and Fairfax Media among others.