Cornbread Panzanella

31 dishes, 31 days – I’m cooking my way through Melissa Clark‘s “No-Sweat Cooking” from the August issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. And to those of you who made your way over here via rachaelraymag.com, welcome!

Full disclosure: This was a do-over. My first attempt at Cornbread Panzanella was last weekend, and I don’t know what I did wrong, but it was pretty disastrous. I was so disappointed, because it seemed like such a great combination of things I love – cornbread, balsamic, great summer tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, capers – but what I ended up with was a grey, grainy, sodden mess.

I had picked up a gorgeous loaf of cornbread from Hi-Rise Bakery at the Boston Public Market, which I cubed and let stale overnight. I had chopped up some gorgeous Arcadian Fields heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella from our friends at Narragansett Creamery, and when I added the cornbread and gave everything a toss, the bread began to crumble. Things got worse when I added my balsamic vinaigrette: as soon as the dressing hit the bread and cheese, they both turned the most unappetizing shade of beige-y grey. There might have been shouting.

I spent the better part of the week stewing over my failed dish, and trying to figure out how to redeem it. What I came up with worked perfectly. First, the cornbread needs to be REALLY stale. Like, use-it-as-a-door-stop stale. To provide an extra level of insurance, I toasted my cubes in a bit of olive oil until they were golden. After they cooled, I tossed them with my remaining ingredients: a ripe and juicy field tomato from Wishing Stone Farm, which I had chopped and let sit briefly in a dressing of great olive oil and white balsamic (to retain that lovely balsamic flavor but keep the colors of the salad bright), tiny capers, diced fresh mozzarella, and fresh marjoram in place of oregano. Problem solved – the texture was perfect, the colors bright, and the salad was delicious.

Get the Recipe: Cornbread Panzanella

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