For the past week or so my days have consisted of three things: work, sleep, eat. Working has consumed the bulk of my days since I have been filling in for a co-worker while she is on vacation. I am really beginning to feel the effects of working for a week and a half without a day off. I love my job, but after spending more time there than anywhere else, I am in need of a break. My workouts have also suffered. Working eight hour days has put a halt on my drive to get up and go to the gym. Next week, I am vowing to get in exercise everyday in order to jump start my workout routine. I know my body will be happier if I do so.
Sleep hasn’t been my friend lately. With summer classes underway and work depriving me of sleeping past 6 AM, I am extremely exhausted. It really is amazing how much sleep can affect your health.
Eat. No matter what is going on with my life, I always have time for food. Here is a fantastic barley risotto recipe that I made one night this week. Barley is a grain that is new to me, but I really enjoyed its chewy texture and nutty flavor. Extremely low on the glycemic index, barley is a fantastic addition to your diet. Try it in the morning in place of your oatmeal or use it in a salad. I think it can be really versatile if you get creative with ingredients.
This “risotto” does not posess the qualities of a risotto made with arborio rice, the barley creates a very distinct and hearty texture throughout the dish. I enjoyed the chewiness, but I can understand why some people would not. The ingredients added so much flavor to this dish. The bacon was smoky and salty while the lemon was crisp and refreshing. I really enjoyed this dish for it’s decadent flavor and light, wholesome ingredients. I will definitely make this one again.
Lemon Barley Risotto with Shrimp, Bacon and Spinach
4 slices of bacon
1 lb. peeled and deviened shrimp (21-25 count)
kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1-1/3 cups pearl barley such as Bob’s Red Mill
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2-1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1/4 lb. (4 cups loosely packed) baby spinach, washed and spun dry
1/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
3 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
Cook the bacon in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until browned and crisp. Remove from the skillet, drain on paper towels, and crumble into small pieces.
Increase the heat to medium high. Sprinkle the shrimp with 1/4 tsp. salt and a few grinds pepper. Working in two batches to avoid crowding, cook the shrimp in the bacon fat until lightly browned and opaque, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.
Add the shallots or onions to the skillet and cook until they start to soften, about 1 minute. Add the barley and stir until coated with the bacon fat, about 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice and cook, stirring, for 15 seconds.
In 1 cup increments, add the chicken stock to the barley on medium-high heat. Let the barley simmer consistently. Once it has absorbed the first cup of stock add another. Continue this for about 40 minutes until the barley is tender, but chewy. When the barley was tender enough, I added a splash of cream.
Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, 1 minute. Stir in the bacon, shrimp, Pecorino, and lemon zest and heat through, 1 to 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.