Romance is leisurely and unpredictable. Cooking re-quires coordination and precise timing.

But you can blend the two with this simple yet elegant meal to enjoy Valentine's Day dinner with your sweetie.

The three-course menu starts with a festive green salad tossed with rosy blackberry vinaigrette. Baked glazed salmon with green beans and a wild rice-blend make the main course. Fresh strawberries and sorbet fashion a heart-warming sundae for dessert.

The day before Valentine's Day, get organized, shop and do a little preparation. To sail through it all, follow my step-by-step guide.

Wednesday

Make your shopping list and buy ingredients.

Make vinaigrette. Slice shallots and goat cheese (or chop walnuts), trim green beans, cover and refrigerate. Put rice in cooking pot. Set table.

Thursday

75 minutes before dinnertime: Turn on oven.

Add water and cook rice. Hull and slice strawberries and refrigerate.

Make glaze, coat and put salmon in oven. Steam beans in covered skillet, and then plunge into cold water. Using the same skillet, saute shallots and set them aside on a plate. Put dried green beans in the buttery pan and set aside.

Assemble salads and put on the table. Fluff rice with a fork and set aside, covered. Add sugar to the berries and set aside. Remove fish from oven and cover loosely with foil

Enjoy the salad.

Warm beans. Divide them between 2 dinner plates and top with some shallots. Toss remaining shallots with rice and spoon some onto each plate. Add the salmon.

Serve the main course.

Assemble and enjoy dessert.

American Institute

for Cancer Research

Baby Greens with Blackberry Vinaigrette

Dressing Ingredients:

•1/2 cup fresh or frozen blackberries (defrost if frozen)

•2 teaspoons coarsely chopped shallots

•2 tablespoons olive oil

•4 teaspoons lemon juice

•2 teaspoons agave syrup

•2 teaspoons balsamic

•vinegar

•1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

•Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Salad Ingredients:

•4 cups lightly packed mesclun salad mix

•2 slices (3/4-in.) reduced-fat fresh goat cheese or 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts

•6-8 whole blackberries

Directions:

Mix dressing ingredients in bullet-style blender or mini food processor until creamy and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand in refrigerator up to 24 hours.

Yield: 1/2 cup of dressing.

Divide greens on 2 salad plates. If using cheese, set a slice on top of greens and drizzle vinaigrette before serving. Or, dress then sprinkle walnuts on top. Garnish with 3 or 4 blackberries. Store dressing in refrigerator up to 3 days.

Servings: 2

Nutrition information per serving (with goat cheese): 150 calories, 11 g total fat (4 g saturated fat), 9 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 99 mg sodium.