In this recipe, chef Ismail Samad reinterprets a tomato bread salad for Juneteenth with toasted cornbread, slivered collard greens and lightly charred Vidalia onions, plum tomatoes and corn. A lime-honey-habanero vinaigrette pulls the salad together deliciously.

Build in a little time for prepping the ingredients for this salad (which you can do a few hours ahead) and then assemble it within a half-hour or so of eating. (You can – and should – certainly take this to a potluck or picnic.)

Consider a few tips:

• If you want to take a few extra minutes, sauté (or really just soften) the chopped garlic, habanero and onion before putting them into the vinaigrette. Using them raw is fine, too; the softened aromatics will just make for a bit more rounded, mellow dressing.

• For the best flavor and texture plan on lightly searing the Vidalia wedges, the plum tomatoes and the corn before using them in the salad. The simplest and quickest way to do this is in a cast-iron pan on the stovetop (see directions in the recipe), but you can grill or broil if you prefer.

• Choose young collard greens (or the smallest leaves in a bunch) and take care to slice them very thinly; that way they will be tender. You can also substitute kale, turnip greens or mustard greens for the collards.

• Make a batch of cornbread (one that is not too sweet and not too cakey) the day before you plan to make the salad (or the morning of) and let it cool completely; cut it into one-inch cubes, spread them on a sheet pan and toast them until lightly browned, about 10 to 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.


Serves 6

For the vinaigrette:

  • ½ cup avocado oil (or other neutral oil such as grapeseed oil), plus a bit more for softening aromatics
  • ½ medium Vidalia onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped 
  • 1 small habanero chile, seeded and chopped (wear gloves)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt


For the salad:

  • Neutral oil for searing vegetables
  • 4 plum tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 medium Vidalia onion, cut into thin wedges 
  • 2 ears fresh corn, shucked
  • Salt
  • 2 cups very thinly sliced collard greens (ribs removed first) 
  • 3 cups cubed (1-inch pieces) corn bread, toasted 
  • Roughly chopped cilantro or cilantro sprigs for garnish


Make the vinaigrette:

1. If desired, sauté the onion, garlic, and habanero in a small amount of oil just until softened. Let cool.

2. Combine the onion, garlic, habanero, oil, cilantro, lime juice, lime zest, white wine vinegar, honey and a big pinch of salt in a small bowl and whisk together until emulsified. Set aside.

Prep the salad ingredients:

3. Set a cast-iron pan on the stovetop. Lightly oil the pan and heat it to medium or medium-high. Add the vegetables in batches. Cook the onion wedges just until lightly browned on both sides. Cook the corn cobs, turning every few minutes, until they are blistered somewhat all the way around. Sear the bottom half of each plum tomato, then turn and cook briefly on the cut side just until lightly colored. As they are cooked, transfer veggies to a sheet tray or plates to cool.   

4. Cut each tomato half into six pieces or large dice. Reserve in a shallow bowl or rimmed plate. Cut the corn off the cob and reserve in a bowl. 

Assemble the salad:

5. Just before serving, spoon a small amount of vinaigrette over the collard greens; toss to coat. Spoon a small amount of vinaigrette over the corn; toss to coat. Drizzle a bit of vinaigrette over the onions and the tomatoes. Put the toasted cornbread in a bowl, add a few spoonfuls of dressing and toss very gently.

6. Choose a shallow serving bowl and assemble the salad right in it by loosely layering the ingredients: Scatter some of the cornbread, then some of the tomatoes, then some of the corn, then some of the collards. Drizzle or spoon a small amount of dressing over all after each layer. Season with a small amount of salt as you go. Continue layering until you have used all of the ingredients. Drizzle with a bit more vinaigrette (you will have extra), garnish with cilantro sprigs and serve.

Chef Ismail Samad is artist in residence with Inkwell Haven properties in Oak Bluffs this summer, and he will be a presenter at this year's Juneteenth Jubilee on Saturday at the Tabernacle. Samad is an entrepreneur known for his support of closed-loop food systems, and his new projects include Loiter, a project to reclaim and revitalize East Cleveland, Ohio, and Nubian Markets in Boston.