Breakfast or dinner?? This deliciously creamy Pesto Polenta can be served any time of the day! The ultimate comfort food, it's made with homemade pesto and parmesan cheese and is topped with crispy kale, crumbled bacon, and a fried egg.
(This recipe was originally published in February 2014, but has been updated with new photos and content in 2022).
I think polenta is one of the most underrated comfort foods ever. At least here in America. It's creamy and comforting and so versatile in that you can add any mix-ins or toppings to suit it to your tastes.
Plus? It can be enjoyed any time of day. Though many of us don't think about polenta when we're considering breakfast foods, it's an awesome way to start a cold winter day.
This recipe takes a classic polenta and mixes in pesto and parmesan cheese, along with crispy kale and bacon toppings. Oh, and don't forget the fried egg!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
The biggest reason you'll love this pesto polenta recipe is because it's absolutely delicious! It's packed with flavor and the kind of meal you just want to cozy up on the couch with.
I love the idea of it as a cold day breakfast, but also love meals like this for dinner.
Despite the fact that it has a few different components to it, it's also pretty easy to make. And it can be served as leftovers, too!
This recipe has a few different components, including a homemade pesto, polenta, and crispy kale. But all are easy to make and you don't need too many ingredients to make the meal come together.
Here's everything you need:
- Pine nuts
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Unsalted butter
- Parmesan cheese
How to Make Homemade Pesto
It's best to start this recipe by making the pesto. You can even do this a day or two ahead of time if you want. And if you don't want to make your own pesto, you can just buy a jar of it!
But I promise that it's quite easy to make. All you need is a blender or food processor and a few simple ingredients.
Simply, add basil, garlic, and pine nuts to a blender or food processor and process until coarsely chopped.
Add ⅓ cup of the olive oil to blender and process until fully incorporated. Set aside. You won't need it until you're done with the polenta. If you're making a day ahead of time, be sure to store in the fridge.
Typically pesto has parmesan cheese mixed into it, too. But since we're using this pesto in the polenta, we're just going to mix the parmesan in to the polenta separately.
If you prefer to use store-bought pesto instead of making your own, you definitely can! Just note that it will likely be a bit saltier than homemade since it will already have parmesan mixed in. Adjust salt and parmesan accordingly when you're mixing everything into the polenta (though additional cheese is not usually a bad thing!).
How to Make Crispy Kale
It's a good idea to prepare the kale now, too, since it will take a little time in the oven.
Spread the kale on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil.
Pop the baking sheet in the oven and bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes until kale crisps up.
Crispy kale is one of my favorite snacks! But it also makes a great topping for so many dishes because it adds a nice earthy crunch.
How to Make Pesto Polenta
While the kale is in the oven, let's get started on the polenta! It's also super easy, so don't be worried if you haven't made it before.
To start, being water, milk, and salt to a simmer in a large saucepan.
Slowly whisk cornmeal into saucepan and bring heat down to low. Whisk vigorously every few minutes. Continue to cook and whisk for about 20-30 minutes, until polenta thickens and is tender.
I just want to dive into that saucepan!
Make sure your bacon is cooked nice and crispy at this point, too.
And when the polenta is done cooking, add in butter, parmesan cheese, and pesto.
Why does this picture make me so happy??
Now, cook your eggs! I usually melt a little butter in a skillet and let the eggs fry for a few minutes.
Spoon polenta into bowls. Place a layer of crispy kale on top of the polenta.
Top with a fried egg. Crumble bacon and sprinkle around, with a little extra parmesan if you’d like.
Oh my goodness; I think this is what true love feels like.
Breakfast? Dinner? I really don’t think anyone’s going to argue with you either way. You could probably serve this for every meal of the day with no complaints.
I'm especially happy when my egg yolk is nice and runny. And my kale is nice and crispy.
Is anyone else constantly shocked by how putting some kale in the oven for a few minutes can make it taste completely different. If you know anyone who doesn't like kale, bake it for them. And bam! They'll love it. If they still don't, put a fried egg on it...
And serve it with a super creamy and flavorful polenta.
Of course a little crumbled bacon sprinkled about doesn't hurt too much either.
How to Store Leftovers
This recipe makes quite a bit of pesto polenta, so there's a chance you'll have some leftovers. But that's a good thing because it's easy to heat them up to enjoy later.
I do recommend keeping the components of the dish separate and storing like so:
- Keep the polenta in an airtight container in the fridge
- Store kale in an airtight container at room temperature
- Keep bacon in a plastic bag in the fridge
- I recommend making the eggs right before serving. You can always top the polenta with a hardboiled egg that you keep stored in the fridge.
How to Re-Heat Polenta
You can easily re-heat the pesto polenta either in a saucepan on the stovetop or in a bowl in the microwave.
Note that you may need to add a little bit of water or milk to thin out the consistency.
If you're heating the polenta in the microwave, heat it at short intervals and remove and stir as you go.
More Breakfast for Dinner Recipes
If you love dishes that can be served for breakfast OR dinner, you've come to the right place! I have lots of favorites, including:
- Breakfast Risotto with Bacon and Poached Egg
- BLT Breakfast Tacos
- Hummus Breakfast Bowls
- Avocado Prosciutto Egg Toast
- Spicy Sausage Chilaquiles with Eggs
- Jalapeño Cornmeal Pancakes
- Thai Scrambled Egg Tacos
- Huevos Rancheros Spaghetti
- Boston Baked Beans and Eggs
- Tomatillo Shakshuka (from Barley and Sage)
- Asparagus Frittata (from She Loves Biscotti)
Whenever you're enjoying this pesto polenta, I hope it warms you up and brings you all kinds of comfort and happiness!
Pesto Polenta with Crispy Kale, Bacon, and Egg
- 1 cup basil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 Tbsp pine nuts
- ⅓ cup + 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 cups kale, ribs removed and chopped
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup milk
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ cup cornmeal
- 6 strips bacon, cooked crispy
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 6 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Add basil, garlic, and pine nuts to a blender or food processor and process until coarsely chopped.
- Add ⅓ cup of the olive oil to blender and process until fully incorporated. Set aside.
- Spread kale on a baking sheet and drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil. Pop in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until kale crisps up.
- While kale is baking, bring water, milk, and salt to a simmer in a large saucepan.
- Slowly whisk cornmeal into saucepan and bring heat down to low. Whisk vigorously every few minutes. Continue to cook and whisk for about 20-30 minutes, until polenta thickens and is tender.
- When polenta is done cooking, stir in 1 Tbsp butter, parmesan cheese, and pesto.
- In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat or in two separate skillets, melt remaining 2 Tbsp butter. Add eggs to pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until whites are just set around edges.
- Spoon polenta into four bowls. Place a layer of crispy kale on top of the polenta and top with a fried egg. Crumble bacon and sprinkle on top. Add additional parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper if desired.
- If you don't want to make your own pesto, you can use store-bought. Note that it will likely be saltier than homemade and adjust additional salt and parmesan cheeses added to polenta accordingly.
This looks delicious! My favorite way to serve/eat eggs is en cocotte, with parmesan and torn arugula leaves on top... it truly is a fabulous weekend breakfast!
I love an egg sandwich - not just for breakfast but for any meal.
I am also an egg sandwich lover but this looks wicked yummy. I have printed it out and hope to make it.
Erin W says
I love a classic runny egg over easy.
Looks amazing! I love eggs- thanks for the giveaway!
Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor says
What a great recipe, Sues! I love egg sandwiches, they have always been a favorite. And kuddos to Egglands Best for donating to AHS! Have a great weekend 🙂
Elizabeth - Cooking with Milton says
OMG this looks amazing. They have a similar thing at Belly Wine Bar in Cambridge, but it's more expensive and far from my house....
Monica Lavoie says
We eat a lot of eggs but I think I mostly make them over medium. My daughter calls it egg juice!
Jessi @ Quirky Cookery says
I have 2 favorites.
1. Simple fried egg sandwich on buttered toast with a touch of sriracha hot sauce.
2. Omelet muffins with lots of ham and peppers (like these: http://www.quirkycookery.com/2009/08/breakfast-egg-muffins-recipe.html)
And I have one of the plush eggs and love the little guy. <3
recipe looks great sans the bacon...this is hard one, maybe just a fried egg with cheese, years ago when I still ate meat, we had pork roll too (its a NJ thing) 😉
I love classic fried eggs--over medium please!
I love fritattas, especially ones with asparagus, bacon, and tomato
I love making scrambled eggs, they are my favorites!
Also, this looks so dang tasty! love it.
Oh yum! I like having scrambled eggs on the weekends!
lynn @ the actor's diet says
Eggs + bread. Bread pudding, eggs in a hole, I ain't picky!
Leah | So, How's It Taste? says
Eggscellent post (snicker, I coudn't resist)! That looks so good with that runny egg on top! Runny eggs are my favorite but this past weekend I had some really creamy scrambled eggs and green onions served over a croissant. Heaven. That may be my new favorite way to eat them!
Amy Orvin says
I love making egg salad sandwiches. Thank you for the giveaway!
I like omelets
I love to serve eggs with cheese & the homemade cinnamon toast
I love scrambled eggs!
Dawn Monroe says
My family likes " birds nests", where you cut a hole in the middle of the bread and fry it. I think some families call them a bird in a basket.
Melissa M says
I like mine scrambled with lots of cheese
Susan Christy says
Chorizo con Huevos is my favorite.
Jessie C. says
I like ham and cheese omelette
veggie filled frittata!
I feel like I make variations of this once or twice a month! Can't go wrong with leafy greens, polenta, and runny egg yolks!
of course put and egg on it 😉 this is sooo my kind of meal!
Omelette with cheese, mushrooms and onions!
That's what I love about eggs. .. good with anything! Lately I've been putting them on top of sauteed beet greens from my CSA. So delish!
Lisa Brown says
i like to make all kinds of omelets with eggs.
Sarah W. says
I recently discovered the deliciousness of fried eggs, one of my favorite ways to top nachos is refried beans, taco meat and a fried egg! So yummy!
Poached over toast or in eggs Benedict!
Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef says
oh yum. my favorite way to eat eggs is fried! or egg salad. i love eggs 🙂
Right now I'm loving fried or scrambled eggs with goat cheese and pesto on toast!
Allison Downes says
I like serving them poached or making Deviled Eggs.
Thank you for the chance to win this!
I love this combination and can't wait to make it. We have "breakfast for dinner" so often, and more than likely we are using Eggland's Best. I look for them when purchasing eggs. My favorite is really simple and not all that exciting, but comfort food. I just make a scramble with eggs, potatoes and onions. If I have mushrooms, they go in, too. I don't usually add cheese, but that would just make it even more yummy, I'm sure. I love the pesto polenta here…quick and easy!
Our household eats a lot of eggs. My favorite way to eat eggs is deviled! I love the seasonings that go in the mixture and then placed back into the egg - so delicious!
We are an omelette family, with as many veggies as we can fit in!!
Nicole Secondi says
I'm obsessed with poached eggs! I eat them prepared this way, every single weekend, without fail!
I like to scramble them with potatoes and some sriracha sauce and eat in a tortilla!
I love eggs in a breakfast burrito with lots of veggies.
acartwrightmorell at gmail dot com
Sheila K. says
I love making cheese omelets with mushrooms and spinach!
I love eggs over easy w/ a toasted piece of bread to soak up the yummy yolk!
Wild Orchid says
I love to have broccoli and cheddar quiche!
Thanks for the chance to win!
wildorchid985 at gmail dot com
Donna L says
I like scrambled eggs with cheese and onions.
I love to make homemade egg sandwiches with cheese and avocado! YUM!
I love poached eggs---especially in eggs benedict. Yum!! <3
Hi! It's Greg from Starvingkitten and I wanted to let you know that we will coming back very soon after a year and a half baby break! I love dippy (Pittsburghese for over easy) eggs nice and runny, with buttery toast and crisp bacon.
Kelly @ Cupcake Kelly's says
I make a mean scrambled egg sandwich!
Kelly D says
I like to make cheese omelettes.
Rebecca C says
Ove easy with a side of buttered toast and bacon, with maple syrup on both the egg and the bacon. Or scrambled in a candied bacon and cheddar cheese biscuit sandwich
I love to put prosciutto in a muffin tin, break an egg on top of it and bake it till the egg is barely firm. Sooooo good.
My husband and I have been obsessed with soft boiled eggs lately. Five and a half minutes in boiling water and you have set whites with thick, runny yokes!
my husband's scrambled eggs
thanks for the giveaway
I love to do eggs in frittata, especially with bacon and spinach. 🙂
Kitchen Belleicious says
The frittata looks amazing
soha molina says
Scrambled with bacon is my favorite way.