We had leeks and chives in the garden, polenta in the pantry, bacon and mushrooms in the fridge and I had just made basil pesto for our minestrone soup sales last week. I needed something quick and this came together nicely. Added plus, it was better than the frozen pizza idea some other people suggested. This recipe is easily adapted to a vegetarian dish by simply not including the bacon and maybe adding one other ingredient such as kale or spinach. I would have loved having this with bacon and kale! Next time for sure.


Makes 4 portions

  • 1/2 lb peppered bacon
  • 1 C polenta (we used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2 C cream of full fat milk
  • 2 C water
  • 1/2 C pecorino
  • 1/2 – 3/4 C organic basil pesto (depending on your pesto and how much you want in your polenta)
  • 1 T unsalted butter, plus one more for vegetable saute
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 organic leeks, cleaned, white parts only cut in 1/4″ thick slices
  • 1 lb crimini mushrooms, sliced thick
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T fresh thyme, minced (or dry)
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 C fresh organic chives, chopped
  • 4 lemon slices

Heat oven to 425. On a parchment lined sheet pan with a grate, lay out your bacon slices. Place in oven and cook for approximately 12 minutes. Bacon should be crisp, but not blackened. Set aside to cool and then cut into bite size pieces. You can also cut your bacon into bite size pieces and pan cook if that’s easier for you. Definitely a little less heat in your kitchen. Just drain on paper bag or paper towels after cooking.

In a medium size sauce pan, bring cream and water almost to a boil. Add polenta, reduce heat to a medium low and cook for approximately 25 minutes, stirring frequently.  Once cooked, add in pecorino and whatever amount of pesto you like (you can start with 1/2 cup and add more if you want more pesto flavor) butter and stir to incorporate. Turn off heat. Check for seasoning. Put lid on pan to keep warm until ready to serve. If polenta seems too thick, you can add small amounts of water or cream to achieve desired consistency.

In a large saute pan set on medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and sliced leeks. Saute for 4-5 minutes then add 1 more tablespoon olive oil, the sliced  mushrooms.and butter. Saute for another 3 minutes. Turn heat down to medium and add minced garlic, thyme, chili flakes (if using), salt and pepper, stir to combine flavors and cook for another 4 minutes.

To serve, spoon polenta into pasta bowls. Top with equal amounts of mushrooms and leeks and equal amounts of bacon. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve with a slice of lemon.  A simple light green salad with a light vinaigrette would be perfect with this bowl.

Hope you like this one!


  • If you would rather drizzle pesto over your polenta and mushrooms, I think this would be delicious as well.
  • Adding other chopped herbs such as parsley and basil would add more flavor and visual appeal.
  • A splash of good white wine in with the mushroom leek sauté would add another level of elegance to this dish.
  • Consider a sausage (chicken herb would be good) in place of bacon. Sliced and caramelized in a pan sear.  Yum.
  • For a vegan version of this dish, take out the cream, pecorino and bacon (of course!) and substitute the pesto with basil pistou.  Use 4 cups water instead of 2 cups water, 2 cups cream in the polenta cook. Omit butter and add additional olive oil if needed OR vegan butter. I have not tried, but heard this is a good one. Miyoko’s Creamy Cultured Vegan Butter (https://miyokos.com/products/vegan-butter)