Panzanella is traditionally made with leftover Italian yeast bread, but it’s delightfully Southern to use cornbread instead. This is my favorite cornbread recipe: skillet-born, sugar-free, and bacon-blessed, made with freshly stone-ground cornmeal. If the tomatoes are not delicious, a panzanella will not be either, no matter what else goes into the bowl.
- Add miniature tomatoes to vinaigrette and let stand 5 minutes, stirring gently from time to time.
- Drain and reserve remaining oil from mozzarella, and add cheese to tomatoes.
- Add cornbread cubes and toss to coat. Let stand 5 minutes. The outside of the cornbread cubes should be moist, but not soggy. If mixture seems dry, add a little more oil from mozzarella.
- Bring a small saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add peas and cook only until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking and set their color. Drain and pat dry.
- Divide tomato slices among serving plates. Tuck basil leaves among slices.
- Stir peas into miniature tomato mixture and season with salt and pepper. Spoon over sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with Parmesan, and serve.
For Aged Sherry Vinaigrette
- Put fat in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet and place it in the oven as it preheats to 450 degrees.
- Whisk together cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk. Make a well in the center of the cornmeal mixture and pour in egg mixture. Stir only until blended.
- Remove skillet from the oven. Pour batter into hot skillet, and bake until cornbread is firm in the middle and golden brown on top, about 25 minutes.
- Turn out onto a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut enough cornbread into 1-inch cubes to measure four cups. Save remaining for another use.
- Spread cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until cubes are dry and lightly browned along the edges. Let cool.
Whisk together all of the ingredients in a large bowl.