Curried Barley “Risotto” With Shrimp

I like to make this barley risotto fake-out when I want to make a one pot, complete meal that tastes indulgent but isn’t. Usually, I make the dish with shrimp and asparagus and no curry powder, but this time I had broccoli on hand and a Eureka! curry powder moment, which turned into the dish I’m posting. Curry powder is most definitely a polarizing spice, so by all means, omit it if you’re not a fan.

the rirruto

It was quite delish, and is very easy to make. Once you know the proportions of water and barley and the cooking times (all of which will remain the same, regardless of fillings), you can substitute other veggies and protein for the shrimp and broccoli (see bottom of post for tried-and-true combos).



  • 1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 Steamfresh bag of broccoli cuts
  • 2 small or 1 large onion(s), cut into large dice
  • 1 1/4 cups Quaker medium pearled barley
  • 3 tbsp canola or olive oil, divided
  •  3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 5 1/2 cups stock, or water + 5 tsps cooking base or bouillon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp curry powder, optional
  • a few generous grinds black pepper


In a large stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the onion, thyme, and bay leaves, and cook about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and barley, and cook for another two minutes, stirring continuously. You want to toast the barley a bit before it cooks- this step smells wonnnnderful.

Once barley has toasted, deglaze the pan with lemon juice. Deglazing removes flavorful bits of food and caremelized liquids from the bottom of a pan using wine, fruit juices, or broth. This is a great way to preserve every bit of flavor in a dish, which is always helpful when you’re trying not to flavor with fat. Pour the lemon juice into the pan, and scrape the bottom of the pan, coating and loosening up the bits of food. The lemon juice gives this dish a very bright punch, but you could very well use white wine (even better when omitting curry powder).

Add the broth or water and bouillon, pepper, and curry powder. Stir to combine and raise the heat to medium high. When the barley and broth come to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, microwave the broccoli and set aside. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to a large saute pan over medium-low heat. Add shrimp to the hot pan, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until shrimp are no longer pink. I cover mine and set aside until the barley is done.


 When your 40 minutes is up, uncover the pot, add cooked shrimp, with any cooking liquid, and broccoli, stirring all ingredients together. Let this cook about a minute more, heating the shrimp and broccoli through. That’s it!! Just a few minutes of sauteing, 40 minutes of no-touch cooking time, and you’ll have meals for days!

Here are some combinations that have worked for me in the past (same seasonings, NO curry powder):

mushrooms + caremelized onion (deglaze with red wine!)

shredded chicken + broccoli

shrimp + asparagus or peas (my favorite combo)

Let me know which combo you use!

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