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
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.