Risotto is supposed to be a work of love. You’re supposed to make sure every grain of rice is nicely toasted, that the resulting bed of rice spread out smoothly and creamily, and not standing up rigid (and I will admit, I learned that from Top Chef! Admit, you watch it too!). I found that if you make it in small amount, it’s easier to toast the rice, and if you make it with barley, it’s not only healthier, but also more forgiving! The barley has a chewy quality, so if you undercook it just a little, it’s fine (just chalk it up to barley being “whole grain”), and I dare you to overcook it.
This was a meal basically thrown together with whatever I had in the fridge, and it ended up a nice surprise!
1 cup pearl barley
1 small/medium pumpkin or butternut squash, thinly sliced and cut up
2 cups of seafood broth
As much shrimps as you want!
A pinch of thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
4 ounces of cheese, shredded ( I used something similar to Pecorino)
1. Toast the barley in a pan (optional: with 1 tbs of oil) until most of them look light brown, nicely toasted.
2. Add the pumpkin, broth, thyme & bay leaves. The barley should be submerged in the broth – if not, add some more water.
3. Stir the pot every 15-20 minutes or so until the barley achieves a creamy consistency (not too dry, but shouldn’t be swimming in water), and has a soft chewy texture.
4. Add the shrimp and cook until just turn white-pink, for about 7 mins if your pot is really hot. Don’t overcook!
5.At the last 5 minutes, add the cheese while the barley is still very very hot. Mix, and the cheese will melt!