Cajun Barley Risotto with Shrimp

My first experience cooking shrimp was a total disaster. I was in college and was so excited that I had found some frozen shrimp on sale. I had found a Mexican lime shrimp recipe on Pinterest, and even though I lacked a few ingredients, I was determined to power through it anyway. I was too impatient to let the shrimp fully finish thawing, so I threw them in a pan with lime juice and cumin and I don’t know what else. So it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that they had an odd flavor and were leathery. It was a great disappointment to my shrimp-loving self and I avoided making shrimp for a long, long time. But, I promise that this recipe is easy and cooks the shrimp on medium low heat while they are submerged in a creamy barley mixture – so it’s going to be hard to turn your precious shrimp into leather.

Also, can I just reiterate that is recipe is simple? Please don’t be afraid of the word ‘risotto’. Barley is much less fussy and requires less stirring than arborio rice. And it has lots of fiber and a pleasant chewy texture!

Cajun Barley Risotto with Shrimp Cajun Barley Risotto with Shrimp Cajun Barley Risotto with Shrimp Cajun Barley Risotto with Shrimp Cajun Barley Risotto with Shrimp

Cajun Barley Risotto with Shrimp
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cajun Barley Risotto with Shrimp is an easy and delicious meal, combining spicy cajun flavors with a creamy risotto base. It is simple enough to be a weeknight meal!
Serves: Serves 4
  • • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • • 1½ cups pearled barley
  • • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • • 1 pound shrimp, peeled
  • • 4 teaspoons creole or cajun seasoning
  • • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • • ½ cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • • ¼ cup heavy cream
  1. Warm olive oil in a pot or 12-in cast iron skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, barley, creole seasoning, and a few grinds of pepper. Let it cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the chicken broth and scrape up bits that are stuck to the bottom. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes, or until the barley is done. Feel free to a little more broth or water if the barley looks dry.
  3. Add the shrimp and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the shrimp are nearly done, add the corn, cheese, and heavy cream. Mix everything together until well incorporated.
  4. Serve and garnish with chopped green onions, tomatoes, and hot sauce, if desired.

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