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Tuscan Cornbread with Asiago Butter

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
  • Total Time
    Prep: 25 min. Bake: 20 min.
  • Makes
    8 servings (1-1/4 cups butter)

Ingredients

  • 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 large eggs, room temperature
  • 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
  • BUTTER:
  • 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

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400°. In a 10-in. cast-iron or other 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 until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. 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 cornbread (save remaining butter for another use).
Editor's Note:If desired, remaining butter may be shaped into a log. Wrap butter in plastic; refrigerate for a week or freeze for several months. To use, unwrap and slice; serve with bread, pasta, vegetables, seafood or poultry.
Nutrition Facts
1 wedge with 1 tablespoon butter: 329 calories, 18g fat (8g saturated fat), 79mg cholesterol, 695mg sodium, 34g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 2g fiber), 8g protein.

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