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

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.