Several years ago, cornbread salads started appearing out of nowhere at church suppers, covered dish dinners and buffets from Amarillo, Texas to Macon, Georgia. Little seems to be known about the origin of this grassroots trend, but it is probably safe to say that a thrifty cook tried it as a way to use leftover cornbread and discovered a wonderful new use for this Southern favorite.
Cornbread salads were initially prepared like potato or macaroni salad using cubes of cornbread to replace the potatoes or pasta. But variations are limited only by the cook’s imagination, so they soon started showing up in a myriad of flavors.
At the height of the tomato season one year, my friend suggested making a BLT Cornbread Salad and it has become my all-time favorite. Crisp cornbread cubes are gently tossed with cooked bacon, tomatoes, onions and parsley and dressed with a mayonnaise dressing. This salad makes a delicious side dish and is even hearty enough to be the main dish for a light summer supper served on a bed of lettuce. Be sure to keep it in the refrigerator or in a cooler until serving time.
There are two cornbread salads inspired by the classic Italian bread salad that I like a lot – Tuscan Cornbread Salad and Harvest Apple Cornbread Panzanella. They are very different, but delicious in their own way.
Are cornbread salads a popular dish where you live? I would love to hear about them.