Slow cookers can make preparing grains a snap, and the appliance is even more helpful for recipes like risotto, which typically require constant stirring on the stovetop.
By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA
The Kansas City Star
The Stars recipe for Slow Cooker Shrimp and Barley Risotto is a great way to add fiber to the diet while enjoying the creamy risotto consistency.
Pearl barley is considered a refined grain. The outer hull is removed and the kernel is steamed and polished, a process that allows the grain to cook more quickly. Even though it is not technically a whole grain, the Whole Grains Council considers pearl barley a nutritious choice because some of the bran remains even after processing and the fiber in barley is found in the kernel.
• Shopping tip: The actual size of large shrimp varies, but generally it refers to a count of 21 to 30 per pound.
• Substitutions: For added flavor, substitute sliced wild mushrooms, such as shiitake or oyster, for all or part of the mushrooms. Substitute 2 cups of torn, lightly packed fresh spinach or kale leaves for frozen peas.
Slow Cooker Shrimp and Barley Risotto
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
3 cups no-salt-added chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup pearled barley
1/2 cup white wine
1 pound large shrimp or frozen raw shrimp, thawed, shelled and deveined
1 cup frozen peas, partially thawed and drained
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, 4 minutes. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in stock and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and heat until mixture comes to a boil.
Spray a 4-quart slow cooker with nonstick spray. Pour barley into slow cooker. Pour boiling stock-vegetable mixture over barley. Stir in wine. Cover and cook on high setting 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until barley is tender.
Stir in shrimp and peas. Cover and cook on high 30 minutes or until shrimp is done.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Per serving, based on 4: 440 calories (19 percent from fat), 9 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 176 milligrams cholesterol, 51 grams carbohydrates, 41 grams protein, 332 milligrams sodium, 10 grams dietary fiber.