Friday, July 18, 2008

Cornbread Salad Days

There are few things more satisfying for a Southern cook than a freshly baked pan of cornbread, steaming and golden on the inside, crispy and bacon-scented on the outside. It's the natural go-with for a pot of chili or soup in the chilly days of winter. In summer, it sets off a meal of garden fresh vegetables. Sadly, my family doesn't share my love of cornbread and I can't bring myself to make less than a full pan, so I needed to reinvent cornbread today. I looked no further than Crescent Dragonwagon's masterwork, Cornbread Gospels, and the chapter entitled "Deja Food."

The recipe for Patsy's Cornbread Salad caught my attention, but since I was low on bacon (oh, the horror), I opted for Elayne's Southwestern variation, but inevitably came up with my own, might I say delicious, version. Here's what I did:

I crumbled up the remaining cornbread into big chunks and added one can of drained red kidney beans and two finely chopped leeks. I get wonderful young leeks from the CSA, otherwise I would use about a half of a chopped storage onion. I dressed this mixture with a half-cup of mayo mixed with 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce, 1/4 cup of sweet pickle relish and just the slightest bit of apple cider vinegar (to get the remaining barbecue sauce out of the bottle). I stirred this together and served it for lunch, to myself, of course, because the girls would rather have pb&j. They just don't know what they're missing. Elayne adds cheese to her salad, which I may do to individual portions, but I left it out of the big salad because I don't like the texture that cheese gets when left in a dressing. All told, the salad was a good excuse to make a pan of cornbread.

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