Monday, September 7, 2009

Cornbread Salad

This salad is like a southerner's version of panzanella. Cornbread replaces the loaf of french bread or ciabatta, buttermilk dressing replaces the vinaigrette, and throw in some tomatoes and vidalias to call it a day. Absolutely delicious. I served this as a side to some grilled steaks, but it was certainly hearty enough to stand alone as a main course. Deb over at Smitten Kitchen says that if you take this to a potluck (and you should, I agree), then take the components seperately and then just toss them together before serving. This will keep you from serving mushy cornbread and lettuce. This is actually even ideal for entertaining or potluck-ing because all the components can be prepared hours in advance, and its just sitting there waiting to be tossed and served.

I don't ever seem to find any big beautiful heirlooms unless I'm at the farmers' market or Whole Foods, but my Trader Joe's does have mini heirlooms mix. So I used a 1-pound pack of those, and then threw in 2 vine-ripe tomatoes. I also threw in half of a hothouse cucumber, sliced very thinly.

The buttermilk dressing is very thin, but very flavorful and herbaceous! Hurry up and make this, before all the good tomatoes are gone!

Cornbread Salad
adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook
  • 1 recipe, thin and crispy cornbread (recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (4 to 6 medium)
  • 1/2 hothouse cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • 3 cups arugula
  • 1/2 medium Vidalia onion, cut in half, and sliced very thinly
  • 1 recipe Buttermilk-Lime Dressing (below)
Preheat the oven to 250. Cut the cornbread into 1-inch cubes and lay in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until toasted and crisp.

Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and arugula, and 3 cups of the cornbread in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Drizzle dressing over mixture, toss again, and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Buttermilk-Lime Dressing

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (lowfat or whole)
  • 5 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (I just did the juice of 2 limes)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup finely minced basil
  • 1/4 cup finely minced parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely minced green onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (this was my addition, to add a very small amount of heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
Whisk all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Set aside, or refrigerate, covered, for later use.

Thin and Crispy Cornbread
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cups stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 450. Place 1 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch oven safe skillet, and place the skillet in the oven while it preheats.

Sift together the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg until frothy. Whisk in the buttermilk. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, and stir to combine well. Melt remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter, and add to mixture.

Remove skillet from the oven, and swirl to allow the butter to coat the pan. Pour the cornbread mixture into the skillet (and listen for it to "sizzle alluringly" according to the Lee Brothers - it did)!

Cook for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown, and the edges pull away from the skillet.

Allow to cool completely, then cut into wedges to serve, or cubes for salad.


A & W said...

Uh this looks amazing. Being from the south I LOVE cornbread, a southern panzanella! Amazing! Bookmarking now. Thanks for the recipe and awesome pictures.

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