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. —Kendra Vaculin
(heaping) cups 1-inch cubes of day-old cornbread (see headnote) — don’t be shy with these, this isn’t called bread salad for nothing
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
heirloom tomatoes in a variety of colors (get the weirdest and most bulbous S.O.B.s you can find at the farmers market—that’s how you win summer), chopped into 1- to 2-inch pieces
shallot, peeled and minced
4 to 5 ounces
fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-sized pieces
Place the shallot in a small bowl with the balsamic vinegar. Set aside.
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 with salt and pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes, tossing halfway through, until crisp and browned.
Toss the tomatoes, marinated shallot and any vinegar in the bowl, a serious drizzle of olive oil, and mozzarella together in bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes while the whole deal gets juicy. Add in cornbread croutons and half the basil and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes, so the bread can soak up juices.
To serve, top with flaky sea salt, the remaining basil, and another turn of black pepper.