You wouldn’t believe how I have stalked this salad. It started when I bookmarked it nearly three years ago. Three! Each and every summer, it has managed to get lost in the shuffle of tomato season. This summer I decided it would be made no matter what only to discover that the link I had to the recipe no longer worked and that — huh? — I apparently didn’t own or couldn’t find the cookbook it came from. Amazon fixed that a week later, and I set to making it for a barbecue last weekend, only for the barbecue plans to fall through as heirloom tomatoes grew soft on our counter. One thing after another got in the way of this salad this week — first we were out of buttermilk, then basil, then daylight, then energy… — until I finally dug my heels in last night and decided that we would have corn bread salad with dinner or else. I know, I’m so intimidating when I threaten salad.
I’m so sorry I waited so long. This salad is the height of peak-summer awesomeness, a kind of Southern answer to Italian Panzanella — with cornbread for the croutons, buttermilk-lime dressing for the olive oil and red wine vinegar and soft lettuces for the chunky vegetables. It was a shame we weren’t eating it on a wrap-around porch somewhere, with sweet tea in tall glasses and a basket of room-temperature fried chicken, but it doesn’t mean that you can make that happen this holiday weekend.