Breakfast Cornmeal Squares with Spinach & Bacon

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Breakfast Cornmeal Squares with Spinach & Bacon

Breakfast Cornmeal Squares with Spinach & Bacon

Mar 3, 2017Fall, Recipes, Spring, Winter

For years we have been hearing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day…Guess what; I think that is true.  Breakfast gets your mind and body ready for the day ahead.  For most people, eating breakfast is doing exactly what it says: breaking an 8-12 hour fast.  Yes, you have been asleep for a good bit of that, but your body is still going about its processes, so you should eat something within an hour of waking.  For me that is usually a protein shake or a piece of toast with nut butter before the gym and then a more substantial breakfast after.  I am always on the look out for new and interesting breakfasts, bonus points if I make it ahead of time and it makes multiple servings.  This recipe checks all of those boxes for me, plus you could easily make it vegetarian by leaving out the bacon and adding some mushrooms.  You could also swap out the spinach for whatever greens are in season (adjusting cooking time for heartier winter greens,) so you can really make it your own.


6 ounces bacon, diced
1 small white onion, diced
3 ounces fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups whole milk
2 cups coarse cornmeal
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups boiling water


Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9-x-13-inch baking dish.

Cook the bacon in a deep skillet over medium heat until crispy around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the onion and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onion has softened. Stir in the spinach and cook for about 30 seconds, just long enough to barely wilt the spinach. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl and whisk in the milk, then whisk in the cornmeal and 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese. Fold in the cooked bacon and spinach mixture, along with the salt and a generous quantity of black pepper. Pour into the prepared baking dish.

→ Make-Ahead Note: At this point the casserole could be covered and refrigerated overnight, then baked in the morning.

When ready to bake, pour in the 4 cups of boiling water and whisk to combine in the dish. Bake uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes. After 20 minutes, whisk thoroughly, moving the polenta from the edges of the pan in to the center, and moving the center of the polenta out, to ensure the polenta is baking evenly. Continue baking until the polenta looks firm and golden-brown on top, and a knife comes out clean. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan over top while the casserole is still hot.

Serve warm, cold, or hot. The polenta will be fairly soft while hot, but will firm up as it cools. Leftovers will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

A few notes: The milk fat will make a difference in this recipe. Use whole milk; anything else will yield at least slightly different results or longer baking times. I’ve also been very specific about the type of cornmeal I used, and I adjusted the instructions to call for boiling water to get the dish up to temperature faster.