Have you ever found a recipe that is just so good, so awesome that you make it over and over again? Your family loves it, your friends beg for it (O.K. that may be a bit of an exaggeration), and you can’t stop eating any leftovers. This recipe for Jalapeño Cornbread Salad is just such a dish. It’s part of my traditional Kentucky Derby party menu. It’s also a wonderful side dish for the summer. With so many parties, you need enough to feed a crowd and this salad definitely does that. As another bonus you can make it ahead.
Here’s how I was introduced to this salad: years ago when I worked in the culinary school at Sur La Table, one of our favorite guest instructors was Shannon. Although a pastry chef at the time in a few Dallas restaurants, my favorite recipe of his was Shannon’s Mother’s Jalapeño Cornbread Salad ~ and that’s what I’ve always called this dish. It’s sort of unique in that is doesn’t have any lettuce, but it is full of other vegetables. It’s so flavorful and a perfect “salad” for a crowd. It definitely has a southern vibe since cornbread is the foundation, but with a variety of peppers, red onion and cilantro.
How to Make an Awesome Jalapeño Cornbread Salad
The first step is to make the Jalapeño Cornbread the day before you want to serve the salad. The cornbread is the foundation of the salad and it works best if it’s a little dry. In fact, it doesn’t hurt to let it sit out on the counter overnight.
Prepping the Ingredients for the Jalapeño Cornbread Salad
Next you need to prepare all the vegetables to go in the salad.
For the salad, you need thinly sliced red and yellow bell peppers, jalapeño and poblano peppers, and red onions.
You also need 1 1/2 pounds of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled. I always bake my bacon in the oven on a rack over a foil~lined sheet pan. No mess, no fuss, and the bacon stays nice and flat. Save the bacon grease to sauté the corn kernels for extra flavor.
Diced avocados, some chopped cilantro and sautéed corn kernels, 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup jalapeño or pepper jack cheese complete the salad.
While the bacon is cooking, you can make the Dressing. This delicious dressing is like a homemade buttermilk dressing (or Ranch as we call it in Texas) and can be used for any salad. I don’t recommend using store~bought dressing. It’s too sweet and the flavor doesn’t come close to the homemade version. It makes about 3 cups, but is easily halved.
The garlic clove needs to be finely chopped.
Jalapeño Cornbread Salad Dressing
- 1 pint best brand mayonnaise (Hellman's, Duke's)
- 1 cup buttermilk (not fat~free)
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup sugar
- 1⅓ tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Set aside for one hour before using.
Jalapeño Cornbread Salad Assembly
After all your ingredients are prepared, it’s just a matter of combining everything really well. Then you can put the salad in your party serving dish and covering tightly. Place in the fridge for up to 3 hours before serving. I usually take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.
This recipe makes a lot ~ enough for a big crowd. We had 35 people at our Kentucky Derby party, everyone had some and we had leftovers. If you don’t want that much, use half of the cornbread and half the other ingredients.
- 1 recipe day~old jalapeño cornbread, crumbled
- 1 large red onion, julienned
- 1 large poblano pepper, seeded and julienned
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and julienned
- 1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and julienned
- 4 small or 2 large ripe avocados, diced
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 2½ cups fresh corn kernels (or frozen, thawed and drained)
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) cheddar cheese, grated
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) jalapeño or pepper jack cheese, grated
- 2 large mangos, diced
- 1½ pounds bacon, baked and crumbled
- Toss all the julienned vegetables with about half the dressing and set aside.
- Toss the avocado with the lime juice ¼ cup of cilantro, some salt and pepper and set aside.
- Sauté the corn kernels in a small amount of butter with one clove of garlic and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- To assemble: toss the remaining dressing with the crumbled cornbread right before serving the salad. Add the vegetables, chopped mango, avocados, cheeses, corn and bacon. Gently toss to combine and serve.
This salad is great for our upcoming summer holidays ~ Memorial Day, Fourth of July or Labor Day. I like it best at room temperature and it can sit out for awhile.
Hope you love it.