Author’s Note: This recipe calls for day-old cornbread, but if you did not have the foresight to make cornbread yesterday and you need this panzanella today (me! me! this was me), you can expedite the process quite easily. With a few hours to spare before panzanella o’clock, make an 8-inch square slab of your favorite cornbread. Once it is mostly cool, cut the slab into 1-inch cubes and spread them evenly over a large parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. This will be the same sheet you’ll toast the cubes on later! #efficiency. Set the baking sheet out on a counter and let it hang to dry out for a few hours. You’ll have faux day-old bread in no time, and the cubes will be all set to crouton-ify.
3 (heaping) cups 1-inch cubes of day-old cornbread (see headnote)—don’t be shy with the scoops, this isn’t called bread salad for nothing
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Flaky sea salt, like Maldon, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 pounds heirloom tomatoes in a variety of colors, chopped into 1- to 2-inch pieces
1 shallot, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 to 5 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced
1/2 cup (packed) basil, roughly chopped or cut into ribbons
Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the cornbread cubes evenly on top. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and toss around to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes, tossing halfway through, until crisp and browned.
Toss tomatoes, shallot, balsamic, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and mozzarella together in bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes while the whole deal gets juicy. Add in cornbread croutons and basil and let sit for at least 15 to 20 minutes, so the bread can soak up juices.
Top with a big hit of sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and then serve