Barley Risotto with Shrimp and Peas

Barley Risotto

I know I’ve been pretty vocal about my love for barley around here. I love that it’s local, high in fibre, dense and nutty and chewy, and great for simmering with dry lentils for a hefty salad. I love that you can buy it in flour form to make pancakes and chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cake.


And I love that so many farmers grow it around here. So when Alberta Barley asked if I would help spread the news of their very first cookbook, Go Barley: Modern Recipes for an Ancient Grain, I was more than happy to. It comes out next month, but I have an advance copy to give away – remember when we did Free Stuff Fridays? I miss that. So even though it’s Tuesday, let’s get back on that horse. Some of you know the drill – leave a comment below, and I’ll try to remember to make a (random!) draw at the end of the week.

(Two great Canadian food bloggers, Amy of Family Feedbag and Renee Lavalee of Feisty Chef are playing along too – Amy already posted a fab Mushroom Barley Soup, and I think Renee is posting something barley-ish this week.)

Barley risotto 3

This barley risotto is far more nutrient-dense (and fibre-rich) than that made with the traditional short-grain rice, and as a happy bonus, it requires only one bout of vigorous stirring, halfway through the cooking time. No need to stand by the stove, afraid to stray from the pot. Shrimp and peas and a good squeeze of lemon make a perfectly springy risotto – we can pretend, can’t we?

Barley Risotto with Shrimp and Peas


Yields1 Serving

1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp (5 mL) grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
1 cup (250 mL) pot or pearl barley
4 cups (1 L) low sodium chicken stock
12 oz (350 g) peeled and deveined raw shrimp
1 cup (250 mL) fresh or frozen peas
2 Tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh parsley or sprigs of fresh mint


Heat the oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat; add the onion, garlic, lemon zest, and pepper, and saute until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in barley and stock and bring to a simmer.


Reduce heat; cover pan and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring vigorously halfway through for 15 seconds. Stir in shrimp and peas; cover pan and simmer until shrimp are pink and peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley or mint and serve.


 1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
 1 small onion, finely diced
 2 garlic cloves, crushed
 1 tsp (5 mL) grated lemon zest
 1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
 1 cup (250 mL) pot or pearl barley
 4 cups (1 L) low sodium chicken stock
 12 oz (350 g) peeled and deveined raw shrimp
 1 cup (250 mL) fresh or frozen peas
 2 Tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh parsley or sprigs of fresh mint



Heat the oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat; add the onion, garlic, lemon zest, and pepper, and saute until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in barley and stock and bring to a simmer.


Reduce heat; cover pan and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring vigorously halfway through for 15 seconds. Stir in shrimp and peas; cover pan and simmer until shrimp are pink and peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley or mint and serve.

Barley Risotto with Shrimp and Peas

About Julie

You May Also Like

84 comments on “Barley Risotto with Shrimp and Peas

  1. Shelley S
    February 25, 2014 at 11:20 am

    I love Barley – may be one of my favourite grains.

  2. MyAn Pacholkow
    February 25, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Thank you for the lovely recipe. I’ve always loved barley/Risotto but shy away from the constant stirring. Now this is a refreshing recipe 😉

  3. Jen
    February 25, 2014 at 11:28 am

    This looks awesome! I will have to attempt 🙂

  4. Sue V
    February 25, 2014 at 11:30 am

    I love barley, new cookbooks and free stuff too!. I’ve never made risotto – might give this one a whirl. Thanks Julie!

  5. Shawna
    February 25, 2014 at 11:32 am

    I love barely, just need to know how to cook it more. Looking forward to the recipe book coming out, and love that its Alberta born:)

  6. Louise Innes
    February 25, 2014 at 11:36 am

    I love barley and especially quick cook barley for midweek meals….and it’s local.

  7. Kristi A.
    February 25, 2014 at 11:42 am

    I would love some more barley recipes!

  8. Maud
    February 25, 2014 at 11:48 am

    I love your blog – and use your recipes! I remember my grandma using lots of barley in her soups – so thick that your spoon would stand up!

  9. Sarah
    February 25, 2014 at 11:59 am

    I love barley. I have fond memories of childhood lunches with my grandparents and my Nan’s beef & barley soup.

  10. Anonymous
    February 25, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Love the idea of using barley in a risotto! I need to try this. It deserves to be used in more dishes than just soups!

  11. Jen
    February 25, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Can’t wait to try this. I’ll have to make a shrimp substitution, but it looks awesome. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. Vincci
    February 25, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    I love barley too! A barley cookbook would be awesome. And dietitianly. Still have to try those barley cookies (!!!)

  13. Sherry
    February 25, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Now here is a risotto that looks simple enough for me! Many thanks Julie.

  14. Alison
    February 25, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    I ???? barley.

  15. Alison
    February 25, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    That string of question marks in the comment above was supposed to be a heart. Weird.

  16. Laurie from Richmond
    February 25, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    I made a pork stew with barley last night, and we’ll have it again tonight. I use the original barley, not the pearled kind, so there is more roughage (fibre) in the stew. It’s yummy, with onions, carrots, tomatoes, parsley, and finished with red chard. It tastes completely different between the first night and the second night. I love it 😀
    I can’t wait for your cook book 🙂

  17. Carmen
    February 25, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    I think I’ve discovered that everyone likes barley! I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t – must be the texture? My latest favourite is barley jambalaya – makes great leftovers, it never gets mushy.

  18. Heather Holtby
    February 25, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Making this for supper tonight! Love barley!

  19. Susy
    February 25, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    I’d love a barley cookbook!

  20. Dana
    February 25, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    That Barley Risotto looks awesome. I may just have to pull the barley out of my cupboard this week.

  21. Stephanie
    February 25, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    I’ve been meaning to start using more barley at home, and I love cookbooks. This looks like a great place to start!

  22. Pamela
    February 25, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Do you have to rinse barley thoroughly prior to using as one does with lentils, for instance? Thanks Julie.

  23. Patricia
    February 25, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    I have shrimp defrosting in the fridge right now! I wonder if I have any barley left….

  24. Kathryn
    February 25, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I love barley too. Have always been a bit afraid of risotto, but this looks like one I could try. 😉

  25. Alicia
    February 25, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    As a newly converted to the low glycemic index diabetic, barley is my new best friend. Can not wait to try this recipe.
    Note to self, add shrimp to grocery list for later…

  26. Judy
    February 25, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    This looks delicious! Love that you can let it cook on its own – while you do the other 100 things waiting to be done….

  27. Nicola
    February 25, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    I was just thinking of how I could expand my 16 month old’s repertoire in the grain department. tThis will be perfect…and he will love it because he loves anything that is round and resembles a ball! Peas, blueberries…now barley…all called ‘baaallll’

    thanks for the idea!

  28. Susan
    February 25, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Sounds like a great book and .I like that its Alberta based. Barley has been a staple in our home, but this recipe will expand our recipe collection. A taste of spring is really needed !

  29. Kristy
    February 25, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    I love barley, the texture and flavour would love to learn what else I could do with it.

  30. Lenore
    February 25, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    I posted on the barley and mushroom soup page that I had tried and loved a barley risotto in a restaurant recently, so I’m thrilled to see this post. Alas, though, my husband is allergic to shrimp, so I’ll have to figure out a substitute.

  31. Diane
    February 25, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    I make a fantastic barley risotto in the oven…the creaminess comes from cheese you stir in at the end. Oh so good and luscious. This recipe looks like spring…too bad my daughter won’t eat shrimp…too bad for her when I make it!

  32. Jen
    February 25, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    This recipe looks great. My 3 year old loves barley so I’ll be making this. Thanks!

  33. Dorte
    February 25, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Love barley, will have to try the risotto

  34. Amy
    February 25, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    I thought barley was only a soup thickener… Perhaps it’s time I got more creative 🙂

  35. Kathy
    February 25, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Michael Smith also has a great barley risotto recipe in his Chef at Home cookbook. The kids are learning about plants and agriculture in school right now – they think most of their friends haven’t tried barley so they were going to tell them how good it is.

  36. Jeanie
    February 25, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    I have your book “Spilling the Beans”. It’s my favourite cookbook, and I keep meaning to try out the recipes with barley in them. It’s still a new grain to me!!

  37. Danielle
    February 25, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    I made butternut squash and barley risotto at work today, but did not realize it didn’t require constant stirring. I can’t believe I wasted 45 minutes in front of the stove! Thanks for the tip!

  38. Carolyn
    February 25, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Looks like a great recipe.

    p.s. I have 3 kinds of cookies on my counter – all from your website/books. (And all delicious!)

  39. Nikki Allan
    February 25, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Can’t wait to make this!! Yummy!!

  40. Rena
    February 25, 2014 at 7:38 pm


  41. Les
    February 25, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    Love a starch with a bit of a chew!

  42. Melanie T
    February 25, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Looks soooo yummy! I love risotto, and I have some barley in the pantry and shrimp in the freezer! I may have to try this soon!:)

  43. Jen D
    February 25, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Looks good – I only ever put barley as a must have in my soup, but would love to cook more with it – need some inspiration!

  44. Angie
    February 25, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Yum! The perfect warm, cozy dinner to have this weekend while hibernating inside from the cold – again! Dreaming of spring…

  45. Bev B
    February 26, 2014 at 12:06 am

    Love using Barley in soups, but would use it way more often with new recipes. I

  46. Doréus
    February 26, 2014 at 12:14 am

    … and why have I never thought of making this before? I guess that’s why I keep reading your blog. A version of this without shrimp (the husband is allergic) but with mushroom and some meant will be made this week… I can guarantee it!

  47. RMB
    February 26, 2014 at 12:27 am

    This looks delicious. I’ve been using Barley flour for years as a way to up the nutrition of baked goods. Will have to try barley soon.

  48. Lloyd Denny
    February 26, 2014 at 12:44 am

    Sounds like dinner tonight. Yummy

  49. Jules @ WolfItDown
    February 26, 2014 at 4:53 am

    This looks great! I love barley risottos and how they have slightly different texture from the original rice ones, and adding shrimp just seems like the perfect element 😀 Might just have to get my paws on this 🙂 x

  50. tobi
    February 26, 2014 at 5:46 am

    I’d love to try a barlotto!

  51. Noelle
    February 26, 2014 at 6:13 am

    I love barley! Can’t wait to get my hands on the cookbook.

  52. Donna
    February 26, 2014 at 8:37 am

    So great to see more uses of barley than my standby of beef and barley soup.

  53. Barb
    February 26, 2014 at 9:20 am

    This risotto sounds delicious! I’m a real souper in the fall and winter months – makes a great lunch either to take along or have quickly at home – and I often add a handful of barley to the pot. Yum. I put some in a pot of chili a couple of weeks ago, too. It was a very nice addition. (Was that one of your recipe ideas, Julie?)

  54. Carolyn
    February 26, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Looks great. I am going to make your beef and barley chili from the CBC site that you posted a few weeks ago tomorrow night and can’t wait to try this too.

  55. Pauline
    February 26, 2014 at 11:15 am

    First time for everything gonna give this a try.

  56. Michelle
    February 26, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Looks amazing. I would love to try experimenting with Barley. So far all I’ve ever tried is tossing it in broth-based soups…so I need to branch out.

  57. patt
    February 26, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    love barley and would love to win something!

  58. Linda Whitworth
    February 26, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Hi Pamela,

    Regarding rinsing barley, there is no need to do this as the only thing that might be on the barley is a bit of the residual “flour” from the pearling process.

    Thanks for reading everyone.

    – Linda and Pat

    PS – Go Barley!

  59. Denese
    February 26, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    At present we are working our way through a batch of Sausage, Lentil and Barley Soup. Barley is so versatile.

  60. Marjorie
    February 26, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    No constant stirring…wow!

  61. Pat
    February 26, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Love barley!

  62. Erin
    February 26, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    I love risotto! But my husband doesn’t (its the soggy texture)… maybe this is the ticket? I’m going to try it! Thank you!

  63. Rose
    February 26, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    I thought I hated barley but every post here loves it! I’ve only ever tasted it in store bought canned soups. It was rather slimy. Perhaps I should give it another try……

  64. Michelle
    February 26, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Looks yummy! Barley risotto meets both my husband’s need for a risotto, and mine for eating something with some fiber!

  65. Kat
    February 26, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    I love barley! I’ll whip up a batch on sunday, throw in some (rinsed) canned beans or chickpeas, and stir in some salad dressing and I have lunches for the week!

  66. Sherry
    February 26, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Baking with barley, hmmm must try

  67. Maija
    February 27, 2014 at 8:39 am

    I can’t eat quinoa, so I use barley as a substitute. I like that it’s local too!

  68. Cathleen
    February 27, 2014 at 9:07 am

    I’m excited to try this recipe as I also love barley 🙂

  69. Kim
    February 27, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Looks delicious! Yay for free stuff Fri-er…Tuesday! 🙂

  70. Crista
    February 27, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    This post takes me back to Scotch Broth soup at the old Highland hotel on 16 ave. Afterwards we would walk the halls looking at all the different Tartens, picking our favorite.

  71. Kathy H
    February 27, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    My dad grew a lot of barley during my growing up years on the family farm; barley = good eating, good memories!

  72. Lana
    February 27, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    I love beef/barley soup! Would love some new ideas for cooking with barley 🙂

  73. northern mama
    February 27, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    I use barley for turkey barley chili. but now I think it will have another use!

  74. Brenda
    February 28, 2014 at 6:34 am

    I substituted barley for the rice in my cabbage rolls recently and wow, what a difference! So delicious..I always use pot barley for more fiber.

  75. Susan
    February 28, 2014 at 9:14 am

    I’ve been trying to convince hubby that barley isn’t just for soup. With limited success as a lot of recipes I find are vegetarian and he’s a confirmed carnivore. We both love risotto and I’d never thought of barley there! I have a lonely bit of chorizo in the fridge…..

  76. angela
    February 28, 2014 at 10:02 am

    love barley, although i don’t eat it often enough.

  77. Heather
    March 1, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I think I could get the family to try this! If not, I am sure I could take it down.

  78. Rebecca
    March 4, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    I was a quick quinoa convert (mmm…alliteration is almost as tasty as quinoa), I’ll bet I will be besotted with barley as well…

  79. KathyG
    March 7, 2014 at 1:29 am

    DH & DD both ate this happily, so it’s definitely going into the rotation.

  80. Fiona
    September 2, 2014 at 12:54 am

    I love barley, I hope there’s a risotto recipe in there!

  81. Rob
    October 18, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    I’ve just learned to make risotto in my pressure cooker, because I live at 8500 ft. elevation. Must try it with barley!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.