Barley Risotto with Shrimp and Peas


A smattering of sweet peas and a good measure of rock shrimp turn a humble bowl of pearl barley into a serious risotto.


  • 1 cup pearl barley

  • 6 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 cup finely chopped onion

  • ½ cup dry white wine

  • 12 ounces rock shrimp, peeled Maine shrimp, or other small peeled shrimp

  • 2 ½ cups frozen peas, thawed

  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. Place barley in a bowl, and add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Cover; let soak in the refrigerator overnight.

  2. Bring stock to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat, and cover. Drain barley. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook 6 minutes. Stir in barley. Add wine, and cook, stirring, until liquid has evaporated.

  3. Add 1/2 cup stock, and cook, stirring, until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding stock, 1/2 cup at a time, waiting until liquid is absorbed before adding more, until barley is tender but still slightly firm, about 35 minutes total (reserve 1/4 cup stock to stir in at the end).

  4. About 1 minute before barley is done, stir in shrimp and peas, and cook until shrimp are opaque throughout. Remove from heat, and stir in 1/4 cup stock, lemon zest, lemon juice, Parmesan, and salt. Season with pepper, and serve.

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