BEVERLY HILLS—The best way to keep food fun and fresh is to adapt traditional recipes. The Italian panzanella salad is a classic that features summer fresh tomatoes at their best. Lucky us, we still have beautifully sweet cherry tomatoes, even in the winter. What makes this salad so great is that it pairs cherry tomatoes with crunchy Persian cucumbers and leftover cornbread toasted to make croutons. A simple balsamic vinaigrette tops it off. This cornbread panzanella is a great way to move into the New Year with a new dish.
Cornbread Panzanella”“ Serves 4 to 6
3 cups leftover cornbread, cubed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pint mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium red onion, diced
1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and diced
10-15 fresh basil leaves, sliced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1. Melt butter in an oven safe pan or heavy skillet and add cornbread. Toss in butter and cook over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes. Toast in a preheated oven at 300 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until dry and hard like croutons. Remove from oven and set aside until cool.
2. Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, zest and maple syrup. Salt to taste.
3. In a large bowl, toss cornbread with tomatoes, onion, cucumber and basil. Drizzle with 1/3 to 1/2 of the dressing and serve the rest on the side.