Grilled Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Avocado and Corn

Calling all crouton lovers-yeah you, because that is what this salad is all about. We all know that panzanella salad is from the region of Tuscany and is essentially a way to use stale bread and soak it with the glorious juice of fresh red tomatoes. We know that, right? Then enough already. Let it be said that I AM A CROUTON LOVER and this salad is one way to appease my addiction. No, I am not a fan of boxed croutons, I am a fan of homemade garlic croutons and now I am a bigger fan of grilled cornbread croutons. This is a summer salad so don’t overlook the grill.

I made this salad to accompany bbq ribs. I am not a rib lover.  I made this salad for me. This would be a perfect salad to top with grilled chicken. Or grilled shrimp. Or grilled fish. Or nothing. I am pretty matter of fact today, because I just am.

I used store bought cornbread because I made this at the last minute. Not the best idea I’ve ever had because their cornbread was too sweet and I didn’t let the cornbread dry out enough which caused the cornbread to crumble on the grill. Learn from my mistake. Let the cornbread dry out or cut it into 4 8″ long slices and let it dry in the toaster oven first; or on your counter overnight. This salad is best made with stale bread. It is more easily cut into cubes then and hence more easily toasted on the grill. It certainly is not necessary to grill it, but I promise you will love the grilled flavor. I PROMISE!

I used a variety of heirloom tomatoes, because I love all the different colors. I always have a hard time choosing. Most people choose tomatoes based on ripeness and flavor. I can’t even get past the color. When it comes to gladiolas I’m the same way. I love color. Maybe you can tell by looking at the salad. What colors do you see?

This salad is easily made with your favorite veggies and even your favorite dressing. It needs a slightly acidic dressing, a bit high in vinegar. I love basil in this. I love oregano in this. I love, love, love pepper. I threw in corn and avocado and would have loved bacon, but bacon is over done, isn’t it? Well, maybe it isn’t.

I’m leaving you now. In case you didn’t know and I really didn’t either, this has turned into the year of the yard. I have a beautiful yard that has been neglected for the last few years. Well, this year it is getting TLC. And why this year? Well, this year is the year I got Manservant to work with me. The folly is coming along and the grass is getting greener. The waterfall is working non stop. We are afraid to turn it off for fear it may not start again.  Next year I might even reconsider putting in a vegetable garden. My hope is that the yard might be a tad more manageable next year. OH MAN. Who am I kidding? Speaking of which does anyone know how to get rid of Japanese beetles without pesticide? OH MAN. Why would I ever want a garden?

Grilled Cornbread Panzanella with Avocado and Corn
Adapted From: Fresh Everyday/Fosters Market
Serves: 4-6
Time to Make: About 20 Minutes Active/20 Minutes Not
4 c cornbread or 1 8″ pan (I use the recipe on the back of the Quaker yellow cornmeal box)
1/2 c olive oil total
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 lb ripe, tomatoes
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/4 c fresh basil leaves, cut in thin strips
2 T fresh chopped oregano
3 T Italian parsley, chopped
1 avocado cut into cubes
1 ear of corn, cooked and cut off the ear

Heat grill to medium heat or oven to 450. Toss dried cornbread with 3 T olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread cornbread in an even layer on grill pan or if baking in oven, on a baking sheet. Grill or bake until toasted and golden. This may take 15-20 minutes. If grilling, watch carefully because bread can burn quickly.

Set cornbread aside. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, more salt and pepper. Whisk the remaining olive oil with the vinegar and drizzle over the salad. Add basil, oregano, parsley, avocado and corn and toss gently. When ready to serve add cornbread croutons and let sit for about 10 minutes so dressing has a chance to permeate the croutons. Garnish with more fresh herbs.

Don’t forget to enter the Whole Foods giveaway! And you can enter this one, too!

Other great salads:

Egg Salad
Blueberry Chicken Pesto Salad
Spinach Salad with Za’atar, Dates and Almonds
Macho Salad
Bacon and Egg Breakfast Salad

Take some grilled cornbread, add some corn and avocado, and you have a salad that is sure to please all! #salad #cornbread

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  • Cheri Savory Spoon
    July 31, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Hi Abbe, I am a croton lover and even more a heirloom tomato lover, the Cherokee purple is one of my favorites. Beautiful salad. I need to get out in my garden too.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 19, 2015 at 3:02 am

      I bet your garden is gorgeous, Cheri!

  • SavoringTime in the Kitchen
    July 30, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Raising my hand as a crouton lover! Your idea of using cornbread for the croutons is wonderful and must take this salad to another level. Tapping my feet waiting for my big green tomatoes to ripen.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 19, 2015 at 3:01 am

      I'd be frying those green tomatoes, Susan! 🙂

  • La Table De Nana
    July 29, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    I think you would love a garden:)
    I must admit this my first year w/ a proper albeit small small small potatger and I already know a few things I won't plant again..eggplant did not take off here and I have been watching my one and only..only to see the 2 inch thing at it's stem..and food for the squirrels I no eggplant..I will enrich the soil too..definitely cherry and pear tomatoes..herbs..garlic..(Love garlic in the garden) radishes were fun..

    not sure sure about anything else except my Italian spinach and swiss chard.
    Iam more a bloom girl.
    This panzanella sald is exquisite to look at!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 19, 2015 at 3:01 am

      I'm a bloom girl, too! But I could be a veggie girl again, too! Thanks Monique!

  • ZazaCook
    July 29, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    I am a lover croutons too! Your salad is gorgeous 🙂

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 19, 2015 at 2:58 am

      Thanks Zaza! Croutons are the best part of the salad, right?

  • Biz
    July 29, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    That looks delicious Abbe! I love the idea of grilling them too – I am not a fan of overly sweet corn bread either. Hugs!

  • Tricia Buice
    July 29, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    The yard work never ends for us 🙁 It starts out looking so great in the spring and by this time the weeds and grass has gotten totally out of control. But who cares when there is a salad like this for dinner! It is lovely and to be honest I have never tried a panzanella salad – crazy me! Have a wonderful day Abbe – and best wishes on the yard and bug removal 🙂

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 19, 2015 at 2:58 am

      But you have a garden, Tricia. We have some herbs and that is it!

  • Bam's Kitchen
    July 29, 2015 at 5:26 am

    What a super fun idea for the summer! I have everything in my pantry right now to make this dish but just need to get going on making that corn bread. Loving this southwestern twist on an Italian Classic! Just pinned!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 19, 2015 at 2:57 am

      It is good Bam! Enjoy and thanks!

    July 28, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    This is brilliant! I've never used anything but white bread for a panzanella. But this being a Southwestern-inspired salad and all, the cornbread is perfect. And toasted to boot!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      July 29, 2015 at 3:24 am

      You are kind Mimi! It is a great change but I love both types of panzanella!

  • Libby Weiner
    July 28, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Loved this salad. Have you tried it with regular bread ?

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      July 29, 2015 at 3:23 am

      Easily done with regular artisan bread. I think you had it that way a few years ago! Thanks, Mom!

  • shannon weber
    July 28, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    toasted cornbread croutons are my FAVORITE! this looks perfect for summer, Abbe. Love it.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      July 29, 2015 at 3:22 am

      Thanks Shannon! Pie for salad. wouldn't that be nice?

  • Pam
    July 28, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    How different, love it! It never occurred to me to make it with cornbread, and will have to try your version. The tomatoes look great! We have had so much rain, etc. that local tomatoes are just now starting to ripen. The farmer's market started out with tomatoes from GA, then TN, to KY and now they're from Southern Illinois this week. ?

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      July 29, 2015 at 3:22 am

      My mother always had a few plants growing in Illinois but oh how I miss those farm stands! We've had a lot of rain here also but it is finally getting hot!

  • cali @ cali's cuisine
    July 28, 2015 at 11:51 am

    What an inventive twist on a traditional classic! Love the use of corn bread and heirloom tomatoes. We are huge crouton consumers (my kids like to eat them like potato chips) and I never think to make a panzanella salad. Congrats on your garden, even with some of the woes. Gardening is great for the soul!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      July 29, 2015 at 3:21 am

      Good for the soul but hard on the back! Thanks Cali. I love cornbread and croutons!

  • Angie Schneider
    July 28, 2015 at 2:29 am

    my my my..those heirloom tomatoes are so very beautiful! And the cornbread salad? Marvelous, Abbe!

  • Kitchen Riffs
    July 27, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    What a pretty dish! And a great way to use cornbread. Love salads for dinner at this time of the year — tonight's dinner is a regular salad (although with our own tomatoes!) and with leftover cold, slice tandoori chicken on top. Anyway, yours looks terrific! Thanks.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      July 29, 2015 at 3:20 am

      Tandoori chicken sound fabulous. We had eggs. But the sweet potato hash browns were pretty good! Thanks John. I love cornbread.

  • Liz Berg
    July 27, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    I love using a variety of colored tomatoes, too—so beautiful! It's sad when we're down to only the pale red versions in the winter. This is a fabulous twist on the panzanella—terrific idea to use cornbread 🙂 Good luck with those nasty Japanese beetles 🙁

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      July 29, 2015 at 3:19 am

      Truthfully I don't even use tomatoes in the winter. Thanks Liz. Hate those beetles!

  • Holly @
    July 27, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    What an inventive twist– love the cornbread idea. So glad your backyard and garden are coming alive this summer. We only have a few container pots planted with herbs and tomatoes on the small back deck but our latest addition is the best one yet: hummingbird-friendly flowers and now…hummingbirds!! What a joy to catch a glimpse of the tiny creatures. Do you have a feeder in your yard too?

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      July 27, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      Thanks Holly! We do have a hummingbird feeder. Love them also. Now that it is getting hot though the visits have gone down so I guess I must look forward to Fall. Next year I'm hoping to do container gardens.