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In The Kitchen: Spinach Cornbread Salad

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Like any Southern girl, I have a particular and deep fondness for cornbread. On Sundays when I was growing up, my mother made hers from scratch and by Monday morning only the crumbs remained. Since there was never enough cornbread left to make a good breakfast out of, I’d pluck a fork from the drawer and press the crumbs between the tines and slowly savor every last morsel. I desperately tried to blame the cornbread’s quick disappearance on my brother, but it was quite obvious to everyone that I was the only culprit.

My mother’s cornbread was so delicate it would easily crumb between the fingers, sweet and buttery, it was delicious, especially crumbled over beans or a bowl of soup. But, it was the crust that I swooned for—it was a perfectly golden brown shell, slightly crisp with bits of caramelized sugar. Sometimes, my mother would put a can of creamed corn into the batter, other times a handful of shredded cheese and maybe a few finely minced hot peppers. I liked the variations well-enough, but my favorite was always the plain, but perfect cornbread.

Call it kismet, for while my husband loves cornbread hot from the oven, once it cools down, he simply has no interest. He’s not like me; I’ll pick and pick a pan of cornbread, whittling it down inch by inch until eventually, it’s just me with my trusty fork, pressing the last of the crumbs up with the tines until the pan is completely empty.

While I’d like to believe otherwise, I’m pretty sure that eating an entire pan of cornbread isn’t a good idea for my long-term health, so I’ve worked hard to show some restraint and come up with a recipe that not only makes use of the leftover cornbread, but that my husband can enjoy, too.

All my hard work and creativity paid off when I came up with this spinach salad with crumbled cornbread, chopped tomatoes, crispy bacon and a bit of shredded cheddar cheese and onions. It’s the perfect combination of ingredients and it gives me a chance to enjoy my favorite cornbread in a new way.

Spinach Cornbread Salad

2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
4 strips crispy bacon, crumbled
2 big pieces (or more) of leftover cornbread
fresh spinach, washed
salt and pepper

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
olive oil

1. Crumble cornbread into a big salad bowl.
2. Top cornbread with chopped tomatoes, onions and green pepper; allow to sit for 10 minutes.
3. Toss in spinach, cheese and crumbled bacon.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, sugar and vinegar; slowly add olive oil until dressing emulsifies and is creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Divide salad into bowls and drizzle with dressing.
6. If desired, serve with cornbread.

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