By Jane Dummer RD

Have you ever made a home-cooked romantic meal for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day? It’s a great way to avoid the restaurant rush and enjoy a cosy dinner at home.

Also, cooking and baking for the people you love remains one of the oldest and best ways to convey your admiration for them. It’s a homemade gift that you can both take pleasure in. Let’s explore some handpicked barley recipes for that special menu to share with your Valentine.

To Start

I picked the Barley Salad with Strawberries, Jicama and Lime-Mint Dressing recipe because I love the festive red-and-white colour blend, and nothing says Valentine’s Day like heart-shaped strawberries! The jicama is a crispy, sweet tuber that resembles a turnip and is a new food for most of us. It’s a nice complement to the juicy, red strawberries and tender, chewy barley. And the pumpkin seeds give another punch of flavour and texture. The tangy lime-and-mint dressing adds a delicious, refreshing zing perfect to start the evening.

Jane’s Meal-Planning Tip
This recipe can be made the day of and refrigerated up to 24 hours. This perfect Valentine’s Day salad recipe makes eight half-cup (125 ml) servings; enjoy the leftovers the next day at lunch.

The Main Course

Get warm and cosy with juicy short ribs and velvety barley simmered together for your main course. I chose the Korean-Style Beef Ribs and Barley recipe because I believe the sweet and salty flavour combination is an example of how a range of tastes can harmonize in one dish. And for some, switching up a traditional rib recipe on Valentine’s Day may be just the bold and spicy move you’ve been looking for! I recommend a side of steamed broccoli or sautéed bok choy.

Jane’s Meal-Planning Tip
This recipe can be made the day of in a slow cooker (three hours) or just ahead of your evening in the oven (1.5 hours). It makes five servings of two to three ribs each. Leftovers are always a tasty next-day option.

Ready for Dessert?

We all know it’s what’s inside that counts, especially when it comes to crepes! I selected the Chocolate Barley Crepes for that special end to the barley-inspired Valentine’s Day menu. Fill the crepes with your sweetheart’s favourites. If you need inspiration, I recommend vanilla ice cream with sliced strawberries and blueberries, then dusting the crepe with cocoa powder and drizzling it with chocolate sauce. With the same chocolate sauce, you can scrawl a sweet, personal message to your love on the dishware.

Jane’s Meal-Planning Tip
The recipe makes eight servings of two crepes each. The crepes can be prepared ahead of time, divided with parchment paper and stored in plastic wrap or sandwich bags; they’ll keep in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to three months.

Now, for the final ingredient to set the Valentine’s Day mood, I recommend a bottle of your favourite red wine and decorating with simple candles in your preferred shades of red and pink.
Wishing you a very special barley-inspired Valentine’s Day!