Grilled Chicken with Mom’s Barley Corn Salad


Grilled Chicken with Mom’s Barley Corn Salad is fresh and light yet very filling. Substitute brown rice to make gluten-free!

Ahhh, it’s good to be back!

If there’s ever a time to indulge in delicious food and wine, it’s in Napa Valley – which I definitely did. To the fullest. To the utmost, unbutton your pants, throw in the towel, fullest.

That is to say, between drinking and dining at the wineries and dinners out at Oenotri, Morimoto Napa (one of the best meals. EVER) and several other places, I left California feeling like I wouldn’t eat again for weeks. Then three hours passed and I started craving Chipotle. You’ve been there.

Anyway, like I said it’s good to be back. Back home to Ben, my garden, my morning Mom walks, not splitting 14 appetizers amongst 7 people, and back to cooking healthy meals out of my own kitchen.

I knew exactly what I’d be making for my first meal back, too. A healthy grilled dish that’s exploding with flavor – Grilled Chicken with Mom’s Barley Corn Salad. You will LOVE this!


Chicken marinated in a sweet cherry tomato vinaigrette is grilled then placed over chewy barley salad bursting with the fresh flavors of corn, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and red onion. Oh yeah, there’s bacon involved. Just a bit!

This barley corn salad is slightly modified from the one my Mom makes, which tons of you have asked me about over the past couple of months. (Sorry it took me so long!) I think you’ll find the recipe is well worth the wait, though!


Start by making the Tomato Vinaigrette that will not only serve as a marinade for the grilled chicken, but also as the dressing for the Barley Corn Salad.


The star of the vinaigrette are these Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes from my garden. They are so sweet and juicy. I am in LOVE with these babies!


Combine 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes and 1 clove garlic in the bowl of a food processor. I didn’t try, but I think a blender would also work for this vinaigrette.

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Next add 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar, and 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil,

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then 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, and 2 Tablespoons water.

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Finally, add 1 Tablespoon red onion, and salt & pepper to taste, then whir it on up.


Smells, SO good!


Place 6 Tablespoons of the vinaigrette into a plastic bag, then add 4 chicken breasts seasoned with salt & pepper, and stash them into the refrigerator to marinate while you get started on the Barley Corn Salad portion of the program.


The base of my Mom’s salad is barley, which Ben and I both fell in love with while cooking to lower his cholesterol levels last year. Worked like a charm. You could use rice to make this gluten-free!


Not only is barley super healthy, but it’s also tender, chewy, and a great replacement for pasta.


Cook 3/4 cup medium barley with a pinch of salt according to package directions (it will take 30-40 minutes) then drain to make sure you remove all the excess water, and place into a big bowl to cool. Look how plump it is!


Once the barley’s slightly cooled, add 1/2 cup minced red onion, and 1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes to the bowl.

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Add 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels next (I used fresh, uncooked sweet corn cut from the cob) and 4 slices thick or center cut bacon, cooked and chopped. Here’s a quick and easy way to cook bacon in the microwave.

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Pour in the remaining tomato vinaigrette, then toss everything to coat.




Finally, fold in 1 chopped avocado, then place the salad into the fridge to chill out for a bit while you grill the chicken.

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Remove the chicken from the marinade, then grill for 4-5 minutes a side, or until cooked through, then let it rest off the grill for 5 minutes.


Place a big scoop of Barley Corn Salad onto each plate, then top with a grilled chicken breast, and enjoy!


Grilled Chicken with Mom’s Barley Corn Salad

serves 4-6


Grilled Chicken with Mom's Barley Corn Salad is fresh and light yet very filling. Substitute brown rice to make gluten-free!


  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cup medium barley or brown rice to make gluten-free
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen-then-thawed sweet corn kernels
  • 1-1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped then chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • For the Tomato Vinaigrette:
    • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 Tablespoons water
    • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
    • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    • 1 Tablespoon red onion
    • salt & pepper


  1. Cook barley or rice with a pinch of salt according to package directions. Place into a large bowl to cool slightly.
  2. To make the Tomato Vinaigrette: Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a food processor or blender, then process until smooth. Place 6 Tablespoons of the vinaigrette into a plastic bag and set the remaining aside. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt & pepper, then add it to the bag with the vinaigrette and marinate in the refrigerator while you make the Barley Corn Salad.
  3. Stir corn, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and bacon into the cooled barley. Add enough of the reserved tomato vinaigrette to coat and stir well. Gently fold in avocado then season with salt & pepper to taste. Place into the refrigerator.
  4. Heat a grill to high and grill chicken for 4-5 minutes a side, or until cooked through. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes off the grill, then divide salads onto plates and top with grilled chicken.


Vinaigrette adapted from Skinny Taste.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,


You have got to try this dish sometime! The chewy, crisp, and creamy textures, mingled with sweet, savory, and salty flavors is unreal, and so satisfying.


I especially loved a little bit of bacon with the tomato and avocado. Kind of like a wee BLT. Enjoy!


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  1. I love barley salads! And bacon and avocado – one of the best combinations ever. Clearly, this is being pinned immediately. :-)

  2. Looks absolutely delicious, as per usual! Gotta try that tomato vinaigrette! YUM.

  3. Holy cow does that vinaigrette look good! I also love how the barley and white corn kernels are almost indistinguishable :P I bet the texture combo is out of this world!

  4. These pictures are amazing (and so does the food)! What kind of camera do you use?

  5. Uh, yum. Chickennnnnnn.

  6. Mary 07.24.2012

    WOW, that dish looks flawless. The pics are amazing too! :)

  7. Leslie 07.24.2012

    Wish I hadn’t done my weekly shopping yesterday, this definitely would have made the list for dinner this week! Yum!

  8. Kayte 07.24.2012

    Looks absolutely wonderful. And from one Iowa chick (born and raised by now semi-distantly removed) to another Iowa chick…way to plug that Quaker Oats version!! :-)

  9. kelly 07.24.2012

    Looks so delicious! I’ll be making it this weekend for sure! Welcome home and we are planning a trip to Napa for our 26th wedding anniversary after your great posts last weekend!! Yay!

  10. Mare 07.24.2012

    I bet you could use quinoa in place of barley in this. What do you think?

  11. Linda 07.24.2012

    Well, once we see that nightly beer disappear. We will know:)

  12. sue 07.24.2012

    so many of your dishes are starting to all look the same. lol

  13. Krista 07.24.2012

    This looks delicious! I think I might try it with tofu later this week! :o)

  14. Moms always have the best recipes. Recipes like this gets passed down for many generations.

  15. Bek @ Crave 07.25.2012

    I’ve wanted to try barley for ages but not sure what to have it with :S I’m guessing I could add it to dishes as I would cous cous, quinoa and rice?

  16. Cathy 07.25.2012

    This sounds amazing, I love barley but alas I can not eat glutten, what would you suggest instead of barley?

  17. Sally 07.25.2012

    Looks delicious, can’t wait to try this one! How do you slice your avocados so perfectly? I always seem to end up with a mushy mess

  18. How do you get your avocado to look so picture perfect?

  19. yummmmm! What wonderful flavor combinations. I haven’t had barley in awhile. I guess it’s time I dig it out of the pantry.

  20. Shelley 07.25.2012

    I’m curious about the corn being raw. Why not cooked?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 07.25.2012

      You can definitely cook if you prefer. I just like the sweet crispy taste of summer sweet corn!

  21. Alexa 07.25.2012

    I just wanted to say that I have been following your blog for some time now and I wanted to thank you for all of the delicious and easy to re-create recipies. I have been pre-planning and utilizing most of them for my weekly meal planned dinners! You rock!

  22. Amanda 07.25.2012

    So glad you shared her recipe! Looks great, and reminds me of the first time I ever tried to make a tomato puree in the blender. Major fail- tomato all over the kitchen cabinets, drawers, and floor! Haha, live and learn!

  23. Wendy 07.25.2012

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was fantastic! So fresh and flavorful!

  24. Jean 07.25.2012

    First off, you have one of my favorite blogs! You are just adorable! :-) I have tried so many of your wonderful recipes and my family and I have loved them all.
    Can you please tell me how you slice and dice up your avacado like you show above?

  25. Jean 07.25.2012

    Oh! Had I read ALL of your comments first I would have seen that someone already asked! Thanks for the link and at least I got to tell you that I enjoy your blog!!

  26. Krystal 07.26.2012

    Made this last night, substituted quinoa for the barley and it was amazing! Thank your mom for the excellent recipe:)

  27. Kacie 07.26.2012

    Loving this recipe! Made it tonight using chocolate cherry tomatoes and quinoa in place of barley. It was so good! Perfect with a glass of crisp Chardonnay!

  28. Tish 07.28.2012

    Made this last night. It was so yummy! My girls loved the barley corn mixture. They ate the remaining bits on their plates with tortilla chips. They said it tasted like salsa. Yummy.

  29. […] salad to accompany our grilled burgers (veggie and not).  It was inspired by a post I saw on Iowa Girl Eats this week, a barley corn […]

  30. Sarah 07.30.2012

    Made this tonight – it’s delicious and super filing! Thank you!

  31. Liz 08.02.2012

    This was so good! The corn and bacon give you the sweet and salty combo that is amazing!

  32. Lisa 08.02.2012

    Made this for dinner tonight and it was YUM, YUM, YUM!!! My boyfriend and 9 year old son liked it too…My 9 year old liking it is a feat not easily accomplished…I will definately be making this again and again!!! :)

  33. Kim Bergkamp 08.05.2012

    Hi! What is the herb you used? Cilantro? I am making this right now!

  34. […] those little guys those plants can crank out everyday!Anyways, we swapped recipes we’d made, Barley Corn Salad with Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette from me, and Summer Garden Pasta from her, and both agreed a recipe I’d found for a Caprese […]

  35. Dawn Pressentin 09.17.2012

    I found this salad recipe on pinterest and I made it last week. It reminded me of a BLT, but better! I just loooovvvee the dressing too. I will definitely make it again and again. Thanks for sharing!

  36. Yum, sounds great!

  37. […] installment of Pinterest Productivity includes three Summer recipes I’m itching to try. The grilled chicken and corn salad, Parmesan Baked Tomatoes and Salmon Cakes are on my must make next week list. Once I make these […]

  38. Liz 05.21.2013

    I stumbled upon your recipes from Pinterest and seriously I love you already! I want to eat light and healthy but not feel like I’m starving myself and your recipes are exactly what I’m looking for!! One of the people on here said that all your recipes are starting to look the same and to that I thank you! I’m going to make the shrimp and quinona salad this week and I picked this one as well because the ingredient list is similar! This makes grocery shopping much easier! :) Thank You! You are making my life sooo much easier this summer!!

  39. […] Grilled Chicken with Mom’s Barley Corn Salad: My Mom makes this barley-corn salad all the time in the summer. It’s all-summer, and goes really well with grilled chicken breasts. […]

  40. Liz 05.23.2013

    Great recipe. Thank you! I love barley. Have a great Memorial weekend!

  41. Susan Dee 05.27.2013

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was fantastic…and so easy to make. Thanks for sharing!

  42. ka 05.27.2013

    made this tonight – used basmati rice instead of barley. delicious!

  43. […] been in a grilling mood in spite of all the rain we’ve been getting and came across this recipe that I knew would curb my craving for summer.  Like the recipe suggested, I let the barley […]

  44. […] 5/28 – Grilled Chicken with Mom’s Barley-Corn Salad from Iowa Girl […]

  45. Even though my own recipe turned out completely different (only overlapping ingredient was the cherry tomatoes in the end!), this inspired my latest creation. Looks delicious – will definitely recreate your real recipe sometime soon! Thanks!

  46. peasquared 06.01.2013

    this looks amazing! i’m so looking forward to trying it out this week. i was wondering, though, my husband is not a fan of bacon, even turkey bacon. is there something else that i could substitute?

  47. Kate 06.09.2013

    We made this tonight, after finding your recipe via Pinterest. Here are the words, straight from my husband’s mouth (well, thumbs… I’m putting our daughter to bed and he texted me…):

    “That was seriously amazing. Like, request for a birthday dinner amazing”

    Thank you for your recipe!! It’s going to become a staple in our home :)

  48. B.P. 06.12.2013

    This was absolutely wonderful! My husband loved it, the 2 year old enjoyed it, even the 4 year old ate it all (once she picked out all the onions). The left-overs were perfect for the pool today.
    Thanks for another great recipe!

  49. Donna 06.13.2013

    I wonder how it would be using farro rather than barley?

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