Italian Cornbread with Sun-Dried Tomatoes Recipe

Coarsely-ground cornmeal, toothsome sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil combine to make a cornbread bursting with vitamins and an intriguing pizza-like taste, but with much less fat and a lot more good-quality fiber.

This would be a natural pairing with Tuscan White Bean Soup (or another soup or stew favorite), or served on its own with a salad for a sumptuous lunch. Golden and delicious:

INGREDIENTS

2 ounces dry-pack sun-dried tomatoes or 1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 large shallot, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, or oil from oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup polenta or coarsely ground yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
One 17-ounce can baby corn kernels, undrained
1 cup (4 ounces) coarsely-shredded or diced whole-milk or smoked mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat over to 400F. Grease a 10-inch skillet or 13-by-9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. If using dry-pack tomatoes, place them in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 10 minutes to soften, then drain and chop. If using oil-pack tomatoes, drain tomatoes, reserving oil, and chop. In a small skillet, saute the shallot in the butter or reserved tomato oil until softened. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Combine flour, polenta or coarse cornmeal, salt, baking powder, baking soda, basil, and cumin in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix the eggs, sour cream, corn with its liquid, sautéed shallots and butter or oil, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and cheese with a wooden spoon. Add to the dry ingredients and stir just until all the ingredients are moistened and thoroughly blended. Take care not to over mix; the batter will be thin. If you are using skillet to bake the cornbread, place the greased skillet in the oven for 5 minutes to preheat.

3. Pour batter into prepared baking dish or into the hot 10-inch skillet. Bake in the center of the oven for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the cornbread is golden around the edges and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting into thick wedges to serve.

Adapted from The Best Quick Breads, by Beth Hensperger (Harvard Common Press, 2000). Copyright (c) 2000 by Beth Hensperger. Reprinted by permission of Harvard Common Press.
Adapted from The Best Quick Breads, by Beth Hensperger (Harvard Common Press, 2000).

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