The next few posts on ‘A Life From Scratch’ are going to be all about updating your summer sides. I find, more often than not, when asking the hostess the question ‘what can I bring’ you are often answered with ‘a side.’ Hmmm. You don’t want to be the person to bring over another bowl of mayo filled potato salad or cole slaw and obviously you’re beyond the basic fruit salad or baked beans. So, these next few posts will be a shot of life to your summer sides repertoire.
I have a new ‘cook’ crush in my life. Her name is Sara Foster and she is the founder of Foster’s Market in North Carolina and the author of a few beautiful cookbooks. Her fresh and seasonal inspired cooking, seasoned with a southern twang, is just what I need for inspiration this summer.
So, that brings us to the recipe. Skillet Cornbread Panzanella Salad. Panzanella salad is typically an Italian bread salad made up of juicy tomatoes, basil, garlic and other flavors that sit on top of day old rustic bread. Sara Foster gives this concept a southern twist and puts it on top of skillet cornbread. Genius.
Now, there is a pretty big short cut here if you want to go that route – buy corn bread from the store. (Unwrap it first and no one will know). If you’re feeling up for it and have a trusty oven proof skillet I suggest you make it from scratch. It was easy as mix the dry ingredients and add the wet ones. And baking with a skillet is just plain cool. Right y’all?
- 4 cups cornbread in 1/2 inch cubes (bought or 'skillet cornbread' (recipe follows))
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 large heirloom tomatoes, the freshest you can find
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- salt & pepper
- 8 basil leaves, julienned
- smoked mozzarella, cut into small chunks
- 1 avocado, 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 TBS olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3 TBS sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 cups buttermilk, well shaken
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 TBS unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Toss the cornbread cubes with 3 TBS olive oil, salt, and pepper and toast in the oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Let the cornbread cool slightly.
- Combine the tomatoes, onion, salt & pepper, mozzarella, and toasted corn bread in a large bowl and toss. Whisk together the remaining olive oil with the red wine vinegar and drizzle over the salad. Add the basil and avocado and toss gently together. Serve immediately.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Pour the olive oil in a large cast iron (or other ovenproof) skillet and coat the bottom and sides. Place in the oven to warm.
- Mix together all of the dry ingredients. Add in the buttermilk, eggs, and butter and mix until just combined.
- Remove the hot skillet from the over, pour the batter in, and bake for 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.
South Carolina is calling my name…
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