I had some fresh basil on hand and needed to find a use for it. Peering into my pantry, I saw a bag of cornmeal and figured that cornbread with a Tuscan twist would be delicious. During peak tomato season, I substitute the canned tomatoes with fresh—just remove the skins, seed and finely dice.—Michelle Anderson, Eagle, Idaho
- 2 ounces sliced pancetta or bacon strips, finely chopped
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, as needed
- 1-1/2 cups white cornmeal
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 can (2-1/4 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup shredded Asiago cheese
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
- 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh basil
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
- 1 garlic clove, minced, optional
- Preheat oven to 400°. In a 10-in. ovenproof skillet, cook pancetta over medium heat until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Reserve drippings in skillet. If necessary, add enough oil to measure 2 tablespoons drippings.
- In a large bowl, whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, basil and garlic until blended; stir in tomatoes. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in olives and pancetta.
- Place skillet with drippings in oven; heat 2 minutes. Tilt pan to coat bottom and sides with drippings. Add batter to hot pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in oil until blended; stir in cheese, green onion, basil, oregano and, if desired, garlic. Serve 1/2 cup butter mixture with warm corn bread (save remaining butter for another use). Yield: 8 servings (1-1/4 cups butter).
Originally published as Tuscan Corn Bread with Asiago Butter in Taste of Home's Holiday & Celebrations Cookbook Annual 2014
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