We are back from Dallas. It was…..I don’t know, hot. Like holy crap, hot! You Southerners have an intense heat tolerance, I bow down to you. I was sweating the moment I stepped out of the airport, I’m pretty sure it was 110°F at midnight. What do they call that? Oh yeah….sultry.
No, it was fun. For the first time ever Louisa got to celebrate her birthday with all of her 13 cousins—that water balloon fight was on. We ate amazingly delicious burgers at Rodeo Goat—I had a little sweet corn-guajillo mayonnaise-cotija number that I’ll be recreating at home with a quickness, aaaaand got in tons of family time, so all-in-all it was a solid vacation.
Now we’re back and my garden is bursting at the seams with all things summer so I made up this Mexican version of a summertime classic to share with you, because if there is anything that will get you in the cooking mood it’s fresh vegetables picked from your own backyard.
We’ve got homemade aged white cheddar cornbread, crispy bacon, loads of ripe tomatoes, and some charred chile strips just to keep things interesting. Top all that with a smoky bacon vinaigrette and I’m going to stop typing now, I have a feeling you’ve stopped reading and are already in the kitchen.
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup (3 ounces) shredded aged white cheddar
- 4 small jalapeños or 2 small poblanos if you would like it less spicy
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 small zucchini, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup roughly chopped herbs, such as basil, tarragon, and cilantro
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Pour oil into a 10-inch cast iron skillet and place in the oven to heat as the oven is heating up.
- Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Combine buttermilk and egg in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined with a rubber spatula. Add cheddar and fold until combined.
- Carefully remove skillet from oven and pour hot oil into batter. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Scrape batter back into skillet and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
- Remove from the skillet and let cool completely on a wire rack. Cornbread can be made up to a day in advance.
- Heat the broiler to high. Lay the peppers on a baking sheet and place under the broiler until the skin is charred on all sides, about 1-2 minutes. Let cool, then remove the skin, seeds, and stems. Chop into large pieces and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 400°F.
- Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until browned and crisp. Remove pan from the heat and place bacon on a paper towel-lined plate; save the bacon grease in the pan.
- Cut cornbread into 1-inch cubes and lay in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast cornbread in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Combine charred peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, onion, and cornbread in a large bowl.
- Heat the pan with the bacon grease over medium heat. Add garlic, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine. Crumble bacon over salad and top with herbs. Serve immediately.