Olive Oil Quick Bread With Pancetta, Dates and Goat Cheese

Serves 10.

Note: Use a sweet, golden olive oil, the more buttery the better; bitter, green oils are too strong for this bread. You’ll need a 4 1/2- by 8 1/2-inch loaf pan. The flavors develop even more after the bread rests for a day, wrapped in foil and refrigerated. Reheat gently for 10 minutes at 325 degrees if you wish to serve it warm. It’s delicious toasted. Leftovers are good for up to 4 days. From Cathy Barrow.

• 3 oz. pancetta, chopped into pea-size pieces (1/4 c.)

• 1/2 medium onion, minced (1/2 c.)

• 1 1/2 c. flour

• 1/2 c. cornmeal

• 2 tsp. baking powder

• 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

• 12 pitted dates, chopped into pea-size pieces (about 1 c.)

• 2 tsp. minced fresh parsley

• 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves

• 2 tsp. minced fresh chives

• 3/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil (see Note)

• 1/2 c. whole milk

• 3 eggs

• About 3 oz. (1/3 c.) fresh goat cheese, crumbled into pea-size pieces

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the inside of a loaf pan with cooking oil spray. Line a plate with a paper towel.

Cook the pancetta in a dry skillet over medium heat until crisped, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to the lined plate to drain. As needed, pour off all but about a teaspoon of the rendered fat in the pan, then return to medium heat and add the onion. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until wilted and lightly browned in spots. Remove from the heat.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the chopped dates and fresh parsley, rosemary and chives; use your fingers to break up the sticky pieces and coat them with the flour mixture. This will help keep those solids from sinking to the bottom during baking.

Whisk together the oil, milk and eggs in a liquid measuring cup until well incorporated. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; pour in the oil mixture. Use a flexible spatula to gently stir and combine the liquid and dry ingredients, scraping the dry ingredients up from the bottom of the bowl regularly. Once there are no white streaks remaining, stir in the crisped pancetta, cooked onion and goat cheese until evenly distributed.

Scrape into the prepared pan. Bake on middle rack for 55 to 65 minutes, until the cake has risen to form a golden brown crown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Turn out from the pan onto a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving, or cool completely before storing.

Nutrition information per each of 10 slices:

Calories 370 Fat 24 g Sodium 270 mg

Carbohydrates 32 g Saturated fat 6 g Total sugars 13 g

Protein 8 g Cholesterol 70 mg Dietary fiber 2 g