Pairing shrimp with mushrooms and barley was a restaurant inspired dish. They called it their version of shrimp and grits which became a let down, even though the dish was absolutely delicious, enjoyable, earthy. It just wasn’t shrimp and grits because it was barley and barley has a lot of texture. Great texture, adding a nice layer to a dish. It just needed to be called something else, because the idea of creamy, cheesy grits was already cast in my head.
Funny how a name will conjure up a title, a memory and expectations. The other night one of the twins ordered beef nachos at a Mexican joint and threw a crying fit because they didn’t look like the nachos served in the school cafeteria. We could barely calm him down until I saw that they had egg burritos and I knew they were similar to ones eaten at home. He ate the entire gigantic burrito, recovering from his traumatic moment of disappointment. I understood it immediately, because food is important to me too, and I didn’t interpret his fit as acting out, realizing he probably is acquiring his food view.
Food memories are so strong, so powerful that we can almost smell a dish before it’s served. When it isn’t what we saw and tasted in our minds, we are disappointed, even if the dish in front of us is good in and of itself.
Some of the more modern restaurants today take great license in revamping old timey meals and sometimes, it’s done well, and other times, it saddens me. I was recently served processed chicken discs for chicken and waffles in a upscale place (they mixed the chicken with liver and I think they thought that was sophisticated, but it ended up tasting like McNuggets).
On this particular night, the dish (that wasn’t really shrimp and grits) was so good in and of itself, I quickly forgave them and got over my disappointment. I still think it should be renamed, but alas, it’s a popular and they might not want more customer confusion.
What struck me most about the dish was it’s earthiness, driven by the mushrooms and the barley. It was all shrimp, but I happened to have a few scallops to add in. All shrimp is just fine, or adding in any fish you may have is fine too. This is not a bouillabaisse or cioppino that takes a few hours.
This is a simple 3o minute dish that is still good enough for a quick dinner party. Serve with crusty bread, a salad, and some red wine for a moderately light, yet hearty meal.
It was also a way for me to eat mushrooms a little bit differently. I was shipped an entire box of mushrooms at one time from Fresh Mushrooms. It was a bit overwhelming. They were all so perfect, so gorgeous, but oh so much. I like mushrooms at this time of year because they add earthiness to a dish. They bring texture, some flavor and aroma. They go well with butter, wine and thyme. Stay tuned for more recipes.
This is one of those almost no recipe type recipes. Feel free to add in a splash of heavy cream or any other seafood you want to add to it. Just keep the shrimp tender by not overcooking, and you will have a delicious shrimp, mushrooms, tomato over barley dinner in less than 30 minutes.
The original recipe at the Frothy Monkey (which is amazingly good by the way) had red peppers, tasso ham and cream and that’s divine. I did a simpler, slimmer version, and it’s all about your mood.
So tell me, have you ever been served a dish that in your mind was completely different than what was put in front of you? And, do you ever eat barley as a side?
Shrimp, Mushrooms, Tomato Barley
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons shallots or 1 small onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 pound shrimp shelled, deveined
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat Italian parsley
- fresh thyme
- Saute mushrooms in olive oil. Remove and set aside. Top with fresh thyme.
- Add in shallots or onion and saute until cooked through. Add in tomatoes,and cook until they are opened.
- Add in white wine, stirring and cook down for about 3-5 minutes.
- Add in butter, and a few sprigs of fresh thyme.
- Add in shrimp and cook just until the shrimp is done. Add mushrooms back in.
- Add parsley, and more fresh thyme. If you want to add in a splash of cream, now is the time and stir until warmed.
- Serve immediately over barley.
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