Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cornbread Salad

My Venture into Salads

I love this salad. It's really tasty and easy to make because I get most of the ingredients from a salad bar at my local mega mart. This way, the veggies are already washed and ready for me to use. I have to say that this is not so much a recipe as a method of preparation. I make it differently every time I put it together depending on the veggies I'm in the mood for that day. To give you an idea of what to get, I'm breaking down the ingredients into categories to serve as a guide – but feel free to mix it up however you would like. A well-stocked salad bar should have many of the items listed below. The goal is to add stuff that you and your family like to eat. This salad is a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables. It's really tasty and stays fresh for days in the fridge. Enjoy – and happy salad-making!

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Cornbread Salad
(Printable Version)

This is less of a recipe and more of a technique. To start, pick up the following from a salad bar:
PROTEINS: About 1/2 cup (such as chopped ham, chopped turkey, imitation crab, bacon bits, etc)
CHEESES: About 1 cup (I usually get a mixture of cheddar, monterrey jack, and parmesan)
VEGGIES: About 2 cups (I get a mixture of different kinds such as bell peppers, red onions, green onions, red beans, black beans, snow pea pods, broccoli, cauliflower, shredded carrots, radishes, seeded cucumbers, corn, cherry tomatoes, etc)
GREENERY: About 2 TBSP, finely chopped (such as flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, baby spinach, arugula, chives, jalapeƱo, etc)
OTHER: About 1/4 cup (a mixture of stuff like sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, dried cherries, sliced olives, sun-dried tomatoes, etc)

*The salad bar I use rarely has corn so I have to buy it separately fresh or frozen. Sometimes, I have to buy the black beans in a can. I then drain and rinse them before adding to the salad. I normally buy fresh jalapeƱos then seed and dice them when I get home Note: Items such as tomatoes and unseeded cucumbers give off a lot of liquid. Feel free to use cherry tomatoes, for example, but add them right before serving or the cornbread may get soggy.

Now that you have gotten all of the stuff from the salad bar, you will need:

1 8.5-oz corn bread mix, prepared and baked per the instructions on the box (I prefer Jiffy)

1/2 cup sour cream (I always use light sour cream)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I always use light mayo)
1/2 of a 1-oz packet of Ranch Dip Mix

Bake the cornbread per the package instructions and let it cool to room temperature. Why not buy cornbread from the bakery section of your local mega mart? I've tried. At least in my part of the country, the texture of the corn muffins and cornbread is more like cake than home-baked cornbread. When you add vegetables (which contain a lot of water) to cornbread from the bakery section, the cornbread turns to goo. Perhaps your local mega mart makes better cornbread so check it out if you do not want to make your own.

While the cornbread is baking, whisk together the dressing ingredients. It will seem very salty and strongly flavored. Don’t worry – it's a small amount of dressing for the amount of cornbread and veggies. Refrigerate until needed.

If you need to chop some of the veggies from the salad bar, now would be a good time.

To assembly the salad, crumble the cornbread in a large bowl. Add all of the stuff you bought from the salad bar. Add the dressing and gently stir everything to combine. Don't forget – you should not add watery vegetables such as tomatoes until right before the salad is served. Cover and refrigerate the salad for 2 to 4 hours to allow the flavors to mingle. Stir gently before serving.

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