Nothing says summer quite like a picnic or pool party, and nothing is better than party food that as quick as it is yummy! However, I can’t wrap my head around picnics of simple cold-cut sandwiches and chips.
Growing up, there was always one dish that was guaranteed a place on every picnic and summer party table…my Granny’s cornbread salad. Let’s face it, cornbread is not your typical “salad” ingredient, and it’s not usually on a picnic menu, but seriously…it should be! It’s quick, it’s simple, and it’s packed with flavor.
My Granny, like many southern grandmothers, can make cornbread and biscuits (from scratch) in her sleep (and without a recipe), but for this salad, she always went for the little blue box of sweet cornbread muffin mix. And, truth be told, I LOVE those sweet corn muffins straight out of the oven smeared in butter! MMMMMMM…. (Give me a minute to compose myself…)
Like Granny, I bake up a box of cornbread a few hours (or even a day) before I need it, and let’s face it, since it’s a mix that requires an egg and a little milk, this step is the most difficult.
Now, I’m not one to go against anything that my granny says, and I realize that her methods are tried and true, but when I can find an easier way to do something and get the same results, I jump on it.
Granny’s cornbread salad requires half a pound of crispy fried bacon, that’s been cooled and crumbled. Granny, of course, fries her bacon in her trusty cast iron skillet, but for me, that just ain’t gonna happen. No, my bacon is thicker cut and always fried in the oven…no mess, no splatters, no grease speckled shirts, no burns, no problem. I simply place a single layer of bacon (thicker cut) in a cookie sheet with sides (jelly roll pan) and bake it at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until it’s crisp. Recently, I showed Granny my bacon technique, and I think she was impressed, even though she’ll probably never convert (lol!).
My Granny is a product of the Great Depression, and many of her recipes are the result of being raised at a time when nothing was easy and people had to “make do” with what they had on hand. I’m not sure where she got this dressing, and who’s to say it didn’t come from her “make do” attitude and using whatever she had on-hand.
As weird as this is going to sound, the dressing for this salad is merely mayonnaise and sweet pickle juice. I realize that mayonnaise is a scary ingredient in picnic foods, so I like to make the dressing in a mason jar, keep it chilled until I’m ready to serve, and then drizzle it over at the last minute.
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix prepared according to package directions with one egg & 1/3 cup milk
1/2 lb thick cut bacon fried (or baked) crisp and roughly chopped (reserve bacon grease)
2-15 oz. cans pinto beans that have been drained and rinsed
1 c. chopped sweet onion
2 c. chopped tomatoes
1 1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/4 c. sweet pickle juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Bake cornbread according to package directions, allow it to cool, and crumble to a rough bread crumb consistency. Likewise, fry or bake bacon until it is crisp, remove from pan to drain and cool, and chop into small pieces. Reserve the bacon grease.
Place crumbled cornbread in the bottom of a large salad platter or 13×9 casserole. Drizzle the cornbread with no more than a tablespoon of the reserved bacon grease. Then, layer with pinto beans followed by chopped onion and chopped tomatoes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to party.
In a jar, combine mayonnaise, sweet pickle juice, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Shake to combine and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Before serving, sprinkle with chopped bacon and drizzle with salad dressing.
Best Picnic Recipes
Starters, Skewers, and Sandwiches al Fresco
- Antipasto Skewers by Soulfully Made
- Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Cream Cheese Slider Sandwiches by Bottom Left of the Mitten
- Layered Portable Picnic Jars by The Weekend Gourmet
- Low Carb Ham Pinwheels by Cricket’s Confections
- Patatas Brava Chorizo Sausage Rolls by Food Lust People Love
- Pickled Ratatouille Vegetables by My Life Cookbook
- Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps by The Crumby Kitchen
Stow-and-Go Sides and Salads
- Authentic German Potato Salad by Sunday Supper Movement
- Avocado Bacon Loaded Pasta Salad by Daily Dish Recipes
- BBQ Ranch Pasta Salad by Cooking With Carlee
- Broccoli Slaw by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Jalapeno Popper Macaroni Salad by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Marinated Zucchini and Summer Squash by Caroline’s Cooking
- Old Fashioned Potato Salad by Life Tastes Good
- Southern Cornbread Salad by Gourmet Everyday
- Summer Quinoa Salad by Simple and Savory
- Sweet and Sour Macaroni Deli Salad by Recipes Food and Cooking
- Watermelon and Avocado Salad by Take A Bite Out of Boca
- Whole30 Cauliflower Potato Salad by Bites of Wellness
Drinks and Desserts for Outdoor Dining
- Banana Snack Cake by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Blueberry Hand Pies by Our Good Life
- Cantaloupe Mint Lemonade by Palatable Pastime
- Cherry Poke Cake by Pies and Plots
- Chocolate Caramel Layer Bars by Turnips 2 Tangerines
- Chocolate Cherry No Bake Bars by The Freshman Cook
- Mixed Fruit Drink by Basic N Delicious
- Rice Krispie Sushi by NinjaBaker.com
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