Recipe: Cornbread Panzanella Salad
This week’s recipe is from Berkshire-based duo The Butcher & The Baker. The Butcher is Jake, a nose-to-tail butcher/artist, who loves to cook and grew up in the woody hills of Western Massachusetts where his passion for local, fresh food was first instilled in him. The Baker is Silka, a designer/crafter who loves to bake and grew up in rural Western New York where her parents are candlestick makers. Together they spend most of their time talking about, shopping for, making, and eating food. By sourcing locally and sustainably, and spending time with the producers of their food, they’ve learned that every meal tells a story.
Few things hit the spot like a great salad on a hot August day. One of our favorite summer salads has already been perfected by not one, but two chefs in Great Barrington — Daire Rooney of the Mezze Restaurant Group and Steve Browning at Prairie Whale. They have different approaches to the dish, but our reaction is always the same; when we see a panzanella salad on either of their menus, we just have to order it.
But sometimes you just want to stay in and make your own, right? Luckily, with panzanella, you can’t go wrong. Just grab a few fresh ingredients, throw ‘em together and you’ve got a bright and satisfying classic summer side dish.
This salad is simple, but also highly adaptable. Don’t like cucumbers? Leave them out. Have some beautiful sweet peppers? Toss them in. Whether you’re picnicking at Tanglewood, dropping by a summer potluck, or just feeling lazy, this salad promises to deliver.
Cornbread Panzanella Salad
4 generous cups of cornbread, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 lbs. heirloom tomatoes, chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
1 fresh tropea onion, minced or 1 shallot, peeled and minced
1 or 2 cucumbers, sliced and chopped
5 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt (something flaky like Maldon is best)
Freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4-5 oz. good mozzarella, chopped into ½-inch pieces
1/2 cup basil, roughly chopped
1. Lay the cornbread cubes out on a baking sheet and drizzle about 3 tablespoons of olive oil on top. Toss until the pieces are generally covered, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bake in a 400° oven for 10 minutes, gently stirring once or twice, until toasted.
2. In a large serving bowl, mix the tomatoes, onions or shallots, cucumbers, vinegar, remaining olive oil, and cheese. Add cornbread cubes and mozzarella, some salt and pepper, and toss.
3. Let sit for 20 minutes or so, then serve.