In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until translucent. Add barley; stir to coat with the oil. Reduce heat to medium. Continue cooking barley, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes; take care not to let it brown. While barley is cooking, bring vegetable stock to a boil. Add vegetable stock to barley, a cup at time. Cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is almost absorbed before adding more liquid. Keep adding liquid, stirring frequently until barley pearls are al dente, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, cut eggplant into 1/2-inch cubes. Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute eggplant, stirring frequently, until soft, about 12 minutes. Set aside. Using skillet in which eggplant was cooked, add remaining tablespoon of oil. Saute shrimp until pink. When barley is done, stir in eggplant and shrimp. Add grated pecorino cheese. Serve.
Source: Odette Fada, Rex Il Restaurante, Los Angeles Fada's barley risotto is easy to make. It's a great way to offer the luxury of shellfish. Because the shrimp is cut into pieces, you only a half-pound of it to make risotto for 6-8 people. Despite the shrimp, this dish is predominantly grain. It's high in complex carbohydrates and fiber, and low in fat. But it's so exciting that one hesitates to label it with the stigma of "healthy eating." Best of all, here's a dish that fits the proverbial champagne taste on a beer budget; in total, ingredients for this risotto cost about $10. Add a salad and a cheese course and you can feed a small dinner party for about $5 a head.