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, but you know what I mean!
Anyways! 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 little 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.
Next add 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar, and 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil,
then 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, and 2 Tablespoons water.
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.
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.
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.
Pour in the remaining tomato vinaigrette, then toss everything to coat.
SO MUCH YUM!
Finally, fold in 1 chopped avocado, then place the salad into the fridge to chill out for a bit while you grill the chicken.
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 Marinated Chicken with Mom’s Barley Corn Salad
Vinaigrette adapted from Skinny Taste
4 chicken breasts
3/4 cup medium barley
2 cups fresh or frozen-then-thawed corn kernels
1-1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup minced red onion
4 slices cooked thick or center cut bacon, 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
- Cook barley with a pinch of salt according to package directions. Drain when barley is tender to make sure all excess water is removed. Place into a large bowl to cool slightly.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
Oh, and the beer in the background? It was 105 degrees with, like, 115% humidity yesterday. A Miller Chill helped take the edge off. It had to be done.
Hope you’ll give this a try, guys!