Cornbread panzanella is a jazzed up version of cornbread salad, an old Southern favorite, that combines the fresh tastes of summer with crispy Southern cornbread.
In case you don’t know, panzanella is bread salad. So I’m just being all fancy when I call this cornbread salad panzanella instead of calling it what it is-cornbread salad. Forgive me for being a fancy-pants, won’t you? Anyway, I love cornbread salad, which is usually a layered affair with cornbread (obvs), tomatoes, corn, onions of some type, often some sort of bean, and a creamy dressing.
Sometimes, though, those traditional cornbread salads end up feeling a little heavy for me. The dressing makes the cornbread a bit mushy and everything starts to seem a little…wet? Is that the word I’m looking for? I think it is. I realize that’s kind of the effect that dressing is supposed to have, but at times it ends up being a bit of a turn-off for me.
Then I read Deb Perelman’s recipe for corn bread salad on Smitten Kitchen (Deb and I could have a serious discussion about whether cornbread is one word or two). Heavy on greenery and with toasted cornbread croutons, Deb’s salad was tossed a little more lightly with dressing and was just a little lighter than the cornbread salads I’d known. I was immediately smitten (see what I did there???).
For my cornbread panzanella, I decided to include a lot of the components of traditional cornbread salad with a bit of a lighter approach…lots of greenery, perfect summer tomatoes, corn, some cheese, thinly sliced green onions, and a light ranch dressing. Oh, and cornbread, of course….unsweetened, of course, because in my opinion cornbread is not Southern if it has sugar in it. Give this cornbread panzanella a try and tell me what you think!
Yield: 4-8 servings
20 minPrep Time:
1 hr, 25 Cook Time:
- 1 cup cornmeal (NOT cornbread mix)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose or whole-wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons butter-4 of them melted
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 green onion, top cut off
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 2 hearts of romaine, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 large tomatoes, seeds and core removed, diced
- 1 cup corn kernels (about 2 ears fresh corn)
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 4 strips bacon, cooked and chopped
- 4 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- Make the cornbread: Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a measuring cup, whisk the egg into the buttermilk. Pour over the cornmeal mixture then add the 4 tablespoons melted butter. Whisk together until no dry bits remain. When the oven has preheated, place the 2 remaining tablespoons of butter into the skillet. When the butter has melted, pour the cornbread batter into the pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from pan and cool briefly.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees. Cut the cornbread into 1-inch cubes. Spread on a sheet pan. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour to try the cubes.
- While the cornbread cubes are baking, make the dressing. Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. If you find that the dressing is too thick, you can add more buttermilk, a little at a time. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator.
- In a very large bowl, combine the cornbread cubes with the remaining salad ingredients. Drizzle with about 1/2 cup of the dressing. Toss to coat completely. You can add more dressing if you'd like.
Most of the prep for this recipe occurs during the time that the cornbread cubes are drying in the oven, so don't let the long cook time scare you! It's mostly inactive. This recipe can be served as a main dish or as a side dish.
Click here to print the recipe for cornbread panzanella!