Heirloom Tomato and Cornbread Panzanella

Photo by Johnny Autry

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4 servings

    Heirloom Tomato and Cornbread Panzanella
  • 1 pound miniature heirloom tomatoes, halved
  • Aged Sherry Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  • 1 pound marinated celigene mozzarella balls
  • 4 cups cornbread cubes (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup fresh or thawed baby green peas,
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup (1 ounce) lightly packed whole basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 ounce shaved Parmesan
  • Cornbread
  • 4 tablespoons bacon fat
  • 1 1/2 cups coarse stone-ground corn meal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk well-shaken
  • Aged Sherry Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup oil drained from the marinated celigene mozzarella or olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons aged sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

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.

For Panzanella

  1. Add miniature tomatoes to vinaigrette and let stand 5 minutes, stirring gently from time to time.
  2. Drain and reserve remaining oil from mozzarella, and add cheese to tomatoes.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Divide tomato slices among serving plates. Tuck basil leaves among slices.
  6. Stir peas into miniature tomato mixture and season with salt and pepper. Spoon over sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with Parmesan, and serve.

For Cornbread

  1. Put fat in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet and place it in the oven as it preheats to 450 degrees.
  2. Whisk together cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Turn out onto a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Cut enough cornbread into 1-inch cubes to measure four cups. Save remaining for another use.
  8. Spread cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until cubes are dry and lightly browned along the edges. Let cool.

For Aged Sherry Vinaigrette

Whisk together all of the ingredients in a large bowl.

  • Heirloom tomato and cornbread panzanella by Sheri Castle

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