Grilled Corn & Barley Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

August  4, 2011
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 4 servings
Author Notes

Being a Jersey girl, this salad showcases two of my favorite local ingredients, corn and tomatoes. This salad is best at the peak of summer when corn is most sweet, fresh, and juicy. Its light, crisp flavor makes a delicious side dish when served with grilled meats, or it can also stand alone as a light lunch. —Jen Balletto

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Jen Balleto is a Food52er from New Jersey who loves to cook with her local ingredients.
WHAT: A hearty, bright salad that boasts the best of the season.
HOW: Charred corn is combined with barley, beans, tomatoes, and herbs, then tossed with a tomato vinaigrette.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This salad would make a fantastic brown bag lunch or a picnic side dish; it holds together beautifully. We love how the tomato is grated in order to make the vinaigrette -- since the size of the tomato isn't specified, use one to taste. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup dried pearl barley
  • 3 ears of corn (shucked)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked cannellini beans
  • 1 vine ripened tomato
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup basil cut into ribbons
  • 1 bunch of chives, thinly sliced
  • ¼ - ½ cup(s) olive oil
  1. Boil barley according to package directions, using a large stock pot. Par boil corn for 5-6 minutes with the barley to impart some of the corn flavor directly into the barley.
  2. Remove corn. Brush corn with olive oil and grill on all sides until charred gill marks appear.
  3. Meanwhile, halve all of the tomatoes and prep beans (rinse and drain if using canned, prepare in advance if using dried).
  4. Cut kernels off the corn. Merrill was kind enough to share a video on the subject As you cut, collect any of the “milk” that comes from the cutting process, then use the back of the knife to scrape the remaining “milk” from the cleaned cob. The juicier your corn, the better!
  5. Next, cut the large tomato in half and grate with a box grater over a dish or wide bowl, discarding the skins, but collecting the juice and pulp.
  6. Paste the garlic clove by mincing the garlic, and then adding some salt and rubbing the mixture between your cutting board and the side of your chef’s knife. Add that paste into the tomato mixture. Add a pinch of salt, crushed red pepper to taste, vinegar, and corn milk. Always crush dried herbs in the palm of your hand before adding to release the oils…releasing oils = releasing flavor! Whisk in olive oil slowly. Your goal here is to create an emulsion. This should yield at least a ½ c. of vinaigrette. If you plan on making ahead, make ¼ c. of extra vinaigrette to freshen before serving. Reserve your vinaigrette.
  7. Combine barley, tomatoes, corn, beans and fresh herbs in a large bowl and dress with your tomato vinaigrette. Toss to combine.
  8. Finish with a drizzle of your best fruity, delicious, olive oil.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • mmsJack
  • Megan
  • BavarianCook
  • Mise en Place
    Mise en Place
  • lastnightsdinner

17 Reviews

mmsJack May 30, 2020
Well - this was Spectacular.

The kind of dish you just never want to stop eating. So many lovely textures and flavors and the vinaigrette was absolutely everything (even though my tomatoes weren't the summer's best...)

I made the recipe as written with 2 wee exceptions. Due to a snafu (I forgot to get it) I had to sub fresh oregano and thyme for Basil - it's both what I had on hand and what I've been loving lately. I can't seem to get enough fresh oregano - I put it in every flipping thing! I also had to use navy beans instead of Cannelloni. Both worked out great.

As mentioned, my tomatoes weren't super ideal so I added the smallest drop of honey to the grated tomatoes to make up for the lack of sweetness. Didn't hurt a thing but I probably needn't have bothered, the corn I got was delicious and fixed any lack of sweetness from the mediocre tomatoes. However, more important I think, when I make this again, if using less than perfectly ripe, juicy summer tomatoes I'll probably add a squirt or two of lemon juice to taste to make up for the lack of tomato acidity.

The first thing I did when I started making the salad was to peel, devein and halved lengthwise some 21-25 shrimp. (Well - the VERY first thing I did was pour a glass of wine but assume that goes without saying?) After letting the shrimps rest with olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh thyme, fresh oregano while I was getting the rest of the recipe together I grilled those bad boys along with the corn and tossed them in to the mix with the grilled corn kernels while everything was still warm.

For grilling shrimp I get these disposable grill grate things from Walmart - mostly because there's a store near me and it's convenient and they're cheaper than amazon (but amazon has them too in a variety of pack sizes.)

This was a perfect, summer Friday Evening recipe. It was wonderful to put on some music, pour a glass of rose (I picked a dry German pinot noir Rosé which was GLORIOUS both before hand and perfect with this salad) and take my time preparing each step. In the end you find the final result is both so beautiful and so delicious. How incredibly satisfying!

Thank you for this experience and recipe Jen, I'm certain this will get repeated often in my home this summer
kimmiebeck August 6, 2017
The recipe calls for one grated tomato but the picture shows cherry tomatoes. I take it that either one will work?
Jen B. August 7, 2017
There's cherry tomatoes in the salad but it also calls for another large one to make the vinaigrette. You could probably use either but the cherries might be really tough to grate!
Megan July 17, 2017
Really enjoyed this. We couldn't grill tonight, so we just put the corn in after par boiling. Love the chew of the barley and that the beans give this enough heft to make a light summer meal. The tomato vinaigrette was delicious. Thank you!
Camilla September 4, 2016
Made this and it is absolutely delicious thank you, simple ingredients but so much flavor and freshness. I stuck to the recipe except for cooking the barley with some veggie stock. Great dish!
Jen B. September 14, 2016
Thanks so much for your kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Linda O. July 2, 2014
This sounds great and I imagine farro could be substituted for the barley ? Seems like a pretty flexible salad for all sorts of summer ingredients
BavarianCook June 6, 2014
So delicious! I had just checked my fridge this morning, and found a leftover grilled ear of corn, debated whether to keep or toss it, and boy was I glad I kept it! I added some extra barley and cannellini beans to make up for the smaller amount of corn, and used heirloom mini tomatoes. For the vinaigrette I used some leftover cloves of roasted garlic. This was delicious with grilled meat! Thank you!
lizabeth February 27, 2014
Congrats, Jen - this salad is wonderful! A bit of a pain to make, but so worth it! I made it exactly as instructed with the exception of the fresh basil - I don't care for basil so I left it out. My husband loved the salad, too. I had a difficult time trying to make a paste of the garlic and salt, so after I had all the ingredients together I put the dressing in the blender and it was so much better after I blended it. It was the most beautiful bright gold color because I used an orange heirloom tomato to grate for the dressing. My husband noted that the salad tasted better the next day and I would imagine that is because the barley has had time to soak up the flavor of the dressing. So, it's a great make-ahead salad, too! Thanks so much.
Mise E. October 23, 2012
Very good! The Basil ties it together. I used half the barley and more tomatos. To each his own. Thanks!
Ascender September 9, 2012
Lovely recipe! The cannellini beans and barley provide all the amino acids to make a complete protein, so this can be the main dish in a light vegan meal. I added arugula to bulk up the salad and introduce a bitter note that balanced the sweetness of corn and grape tomatoes.
Jen B. September 12, 2012
I'll have to try the arugula. That sounds like a great addition.
lastnightsdinner September 6, 2012
This sounds wonderful - I love summer salads like this. Congrats on the wildcard win!
healthierkitchen September 6, 2012
Mmmmm. I love the combinaiton of flavors!
Midge September 5, 2012
Congrats! Can't wait to try this.
Jen B. September 5, 2012
Thanks very much! I hope you enjoy.
Trillinchick August 14, 2011
This looks tasty, although a little heavy on the starches. Why barley AND beans with the con? Thank you thank you for no cilantro! It tastes like I would imagine a mixture of dish soap and desert brush. When will the fad/love affair with cantor end? Where's my soapbox. Oops, i'm standing on it! ;-)