I'm sometimes asked to review books or products on my blog. Most of the time I'm not interested. My blog isn't intended to be a business, and I write my posts about the recipes and cookbooks I find on my own.
I was happy to make an exception for today's post. My blogging friend, Nancy Vienneau, has just published a cookbook that I'm excited to share with you. Each section of Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook focusses on one month, and uses the ingredients that are at their peaks in that month. Nancy ran a catering company for sixteen years and still writes for several food publications on a regular basis. Beyond that, she has given much back to her community. She teaches cooking classes at the food bank, and is a huge supporter of local farmers' markets.
There were so many recipes in this book that I was eager to try. The Smoked Gouda and Spring Pea Risotto, and the Green Beans and New Potatoes in Mustard Cream, both sounded wonderful. The Spring Greens with Crispy Herbed Goat Cheese Croquettes have my name all over them. In the end, I couldn't pass up this lovely seasonal Cornbread Panzanella with Real Ranch Dressing. I substituted roasted peppers for the tomatoes in the original recipe, but otherwise stayed fairly true to Nancy's version. It was delicious! The cornbread panzanella was a lovely twist, and when matched with colourful vegetables and homemade dressing, made a vibrant salad that I can't wait to make again.
Nancy's publishers, Neilson Books, have generously offered to give a copy of her book to one of my readers. If you're interested in participating, just leave a comment below. If you want to enter a second time, tweet about the contest and let me know you've done that in a separate comment. The giveaway ends at midnight, EDT, on Saturday, June 21, and I'll select a winner by random number on June 22. The contest is open to residents of Canada and the United States.
Although I received a copy of this cookbook to review it, all the opinions I've expressed are my own.
Cornbread Panzanella with Ranch Dressing
(adapted from Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook by Nancy Vienneau)
1. Cornbread Croutons
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup milk
2. Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 green onions, chopped finely (white and green parts)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/4 tsp salt
pinch black pepper
4 large peppers (I used two red and two orange)
1 cup cubed zucchini (one medium)
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
salt to taste
For the croutons: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. In a small dish, whisk together the eggs, melted butter and milk, then add to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine but do not overmix. Pour in the baking dish and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Cut into cubes and spread on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Toast in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, tossing twice during cooking to ensure even browning.
For the Ranch Dressing, combine buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, green onions, parsley, salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth and creamy. Taste for seasonings and adjust. (This recipe gives more than enough for the salad. Leftover dressing will keep refrigerated for a week.)
Roast the peppers (see instructions here).
Cut peppers into bite-sized chunks. Place in a large bowl with zucchini, onion, basil, salt and pepper. Add 2 cups of cornbread croutons. Pour Ranch Dressing over the croutons and toss well. Serve immediately.