In her new book, Saladish, Ilene Rosen explores all the ways you can turn the all-too-often forgotten part of a meal into a feast unto itself. Just take this Mexican-inspired take on cornbread salad; after soaking up an oregano vinaigrette, crispy croutons are tossed with pepper Jack cheese, cherry tomatoes and crisp, lemony stems of purslane (which can be easily substituted with a few handfuls of cilantro or baby spinach).
Tex-Mex Cornbread Salad
Excerpted from 'Saladish,' by Ilene Rosen (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2018. Photographs by Joseph De Leo.
Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes, plus cooling time
For the Cornbread:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
1 cup cornmeal
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
For the Mexican Oregano Vinaigrette:
¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
1 cup flavorless vegetable oil
For the Salad:
8 ounces pepper Jack cheese, cut into ⅓inch cubes
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt (optional)
2 handfuls (about 5 ounces) purslane, torn into sprigs, or spinach, stems trimmed
½ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
½ cup chopped scallions
1. Make the cornbread: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Generously butter a 9-inch square cake pan.
2. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Lightly whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter in a small bowl, then stir into the dry ingredients to blend.
3. Pour the batter into the buttered pan and spread it evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the edges pull away from the sides of the pan; a toothpick poked into the center should come out clean. Remove from the oven, but leave the oven on. Cool slightly on a rack, then unmold onto the rack and cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Cut the cornbread into 1-inch cubes and spread them out on a sheet pan. Return to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until all the edges are crisp and toasted. Transfer to another sheet pan to cool.
5. Make the vinaigrette: Put the vinegar, mustard, and oregano in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender and pulse to combine. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil until the mixture is emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Put the cornbread cubes, cheese, and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl. Pour three-quarters of the vinaigrette over them and toss thoroughly. Check the seasoning and add salt if necessary. Toss the greens separately with the remaining dressing.
7. Layer the cornbread mixture into a wide bowl with the dressed greens and 6 tablespoons each of the pumpkin seeds and scallions. Scatter the remaining 2 tablespoons each of seeds and scallions over the top. Serve.