As you all probably know by now I am not a “health nut”. But, if I can find a food that is good for you and tastes good I am all in.  I love to cook with barley! I put it in soups, salads and as a side dish. Whole grain barley is a great source of fiber, potassium, folate and B6. And… if you mix it with a ton of vegetables you have a healthy side dish or snack.

This recipe I served for dinner with sautéed shrimp.  The whole family loved it-even the most picky one!!! Trust me that is huge considering the kid would eat steak for EVERY meal. Occasionally he will ask for fish (which is even stranger), but every single day he asks for steak for dinner.  Since he is my third boy I am kinda like, screw it, eat steak-its not worth the fight.  I mean we put all our effort into the first two lets just experiment and see how the third one turns out if he eats steak for every meal:) Just kidding, kinda:)
This recipe is more of a risotto type barley dish. It is creamy and delicious and you won’t know you are eating a healthy grain.  Once you learn how to make the “risotto” you can add whatever vegetables or herbs you want. Or, whatever protein you want.  I can guarantee you when I make this again my son will ask that I put steak on it and I will probably accommodate him because I love him and because I love steak too:)
Enjoy!

 

Creamy Barley with Spring Vegetables and Sauteed Shrimp

Serves 4-6

2 cups quick cooking barley
1/2 large onion, chopped
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
5 cups chicken stock
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1/2" chunks
1 cup peas (frozen or fresh)
2 cups green beans, cut into 1/2" chunks  
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 Tablespoons butter

Shrimp
1.5-2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp, thawed
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add 2 Tablespoons salt to water.  Once water is boiling add asparagus and green beans and allow to boil for 3-4 minutes.   While vegetables are boiling prepare a large bowl with water and ice and set aside.  When vegetables are cooked, drain and immediately add to the ice bath you prepared.  This will stop the cooking and allow the veggies to keep their crunch and color. 

Once the vegetables have cooled you may remove them from the water and place on a paper towel to dry.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the onions and cook for about 3 minutes or until softened.  Season with salt and pepper.  

Add the barley and stir to coat with the oil.  

Add wine and allow to reduce for about 2 minutes.  Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the barley is creamy. You might need to add a little more liquid if it dries out and the barley is not cooked through (it should have a bit of a chew, but not crunchy).  If you do not have any more stock then use water. 

While the barley is cooking, prepare the shrimp.  In a large skillet melt the butter with the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook through, about 5 minutes.  The shrimp should be opaque and pink. Remove to plate and set aside.  

Once the barley is cooked gently stir in the cooked asparagus and green beans.  Add the frozen peas and heat through.  

Stir in the Parmesan cheese, parsley and butter.   Taste for salt and pepper.

Serve warm with shrimp on top.