Wednesday, May 23, 2012

#Baketogether with Abby Dodge: Parmesan and Sundried Tomato Pesto Polenta Muffins

This month’s #baketogether with Abby Dodge features an easy little muffin recipe that I thoroughly enjoyed making and eating.   Abby offered up two versions of this month’s recipe for Cornmeal Buttermilk Muffins, one sweet and one savory.  Since the cornmeal in the recipe (or in my mind, polenta) kept bringing me around to the savory side, I decided on going with an Italian inspired slightly sweet yet savory muffin recipe.

Even though corn is now what comes to mind when I think of polenta it wasn’t always that way in Italian cooking.  During Roman times polenta was made from buckwheat which remained the fashion until maize was brought from the New World with Christopher Columbus during his explorations.  The new crop was a perfect fit for the farmers in Spain and Italy with their long warm summers and lots of sunshine.  It grew well and soon became a staple in the Italian diet.  Well if it’s good enough for the Italians, it is more than good enough for me.

Not wanting to morph this beautifully simple recipe into a big complicated deal, I chose convenience and topped my muffins with a good quality sundried tomato pesto from a jar which worked great.  To the batter I added a big handful of pre-shredded Parmesan cheese, some granulated garlic and a teaspoon of my favorite Italian seasoning.  Since I kind of wanted to give these a rustic feel I lined my muffin tins with homemade liners by cutting 6” x  8” parchment rectangles, fitting them into each section and then spraying them with non-stick spray.  They baked up beautifully and the aroma that filled the house was mouthwatering.

Abby served her savory muffins with a bowl of vegetable soup and I can only imagine how good that would be.  I took Abby's advice and served mine warm with a big salad and loved every bite. Mine came out great but if you'd like to see Abby’s original recipes and what the other participants were inspired to make, please click here.  If you want to join in the #baketogether you are welcome to jump in at any time.  Just prepare Abby's recipe or your version of it and post your link on her site.  The more the merrier!

Parmesan and Sundried Tomato Pesto Polenta Muffins

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 egg beaten

1/2 cup buttermilk or 1/2 cup milk mixed with 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar and allowed to sit for at least 5 minutes

3 tablespoons vegetable or light olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 heaping tablespoons sundried tomato pesto

1/3 cup shredded Italian blend cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place paper liners into a 6 count muffin pan.  Spray the liners with non-stick cooking spray and set aside until ready to use.

Stir together flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, sugar and Italian seasoning in a medium size bowl; set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk, oil and mustard before pouring into the flour mixture.  Stir well.  Fold in the Parmesan cheese.  The batter will be thick.

Divide the batter evenly between the sections of the pan.  Spoon slightly heaping teaspoons of the pesto on top of the batter.  Sprinkle each with equal amounts of the Italian blend cheese.

Place into the preheated oven and bake until they are golden brown and when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 18 to 22 minutes.  Serve warm.

Makes 6 muffins

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