Panzanella is an Italian “bread salad” that is traditionally made with cubes of day-old rustic-style bread. At Foster’s Market, we use this concept as a starting point, but we make panzanella different every time. This version, using cornbread as a base, is one of the most unusual—and one of the most popular. I like it served while the cornbread croutons are still warm. Photo to the left by Quentin Bacon
Serves 4 to 6
4 cups cornbread (Skillet Cornbread, or store-bought), preferably day-old, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 beefsteak or large heirloom tomatoes (about 1 pound)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
6 to 8 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips, plus more for garnish (or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves)
1 avocado, halved, pit removed, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
2. Place the cornbread cubes in a large mixing bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the cornbread in a single even layer on a baking sheet and bake until toasted and golden, about 15 minutes. Let the cornbread cool slightly.
3. Return the cornbread to the bowl you tossed them in. Add the tomatoes, onion, basil, salt, and pepper. Whisk the remaining olive oil with the vinegar and drizzle over the salad. Add the basil and the avocado cubes and toss gently, taking care not to mash the avocado. Transfer the panzanella to a serving platter or individual plates, top with the additional basil, and serve immediately.