meatless monday: lemony broccolini and asparagus over polenta
Before launching into this recipe, I should preface this by saying that it is a recipe that was brought together when asparagus was fully in season–don’t worry, I hang my head in shame as I write how late I am in posting this, but I make this confession to you are a means of imparting that you shouldn’t feel married to the idea of using asparagus. It’s a spring vegetable, it’s time has passed and let’s be honest, there are so many other beautiful things at the market that you could use right now. The greens from beets would be lovely. I’ve seen some gorgeous green beans making an appearance that could also be fantastic. The point? Use your imagination. The vegetables listed here are not irreplaceable and it would be silly to pass up on some of the lovely green around town. The only thing I would adjust based on your vegetable selection is how long you blanch them. If you go with a leafy green, a super quick blanch should do just fine.
A word about the polenta. Whether or not you decide to make the veggie part of this dish is totally on you. I mean, I’m not sure why you would pass up on wholesome, lemony, green goodness, but I’m not gonna judge. The polenta recipe however is such an easy recipe that yields such wonderful goodness that if you don’t make it, we can’t hang out. It’s from our trusted friends at America’s Test Kitchen where I’m pretty sure the testers are inspired by voodoo magic. It seems to be the only way they can make things come out so flawless.
lemony broccolini and asparagus over polenta
7.5 cups water
1.5 tsp salt
pinch of baking soda (less than 1/8 tsp)
1.5 cups polenta, not the quick cooking variety (preferably Bob’s Red Mill or Alpina Savoie)
1 tbsp butter (optional)
Big handful of parmigiano (optional, but oh-so-recommended)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup veggie broth
1/2 tsp dried basil
black pepper, to taste
zest of 1 lemon, freshly grated
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
asparagus and broccolini
1 bunch asparagus (1lb), woody ends cut off and cut into 1-inch segments
1 bunch broccolini
zest of 1 lemon, freshly grated
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
salt, to taste
- Bring the water for polenta to a boil.
- Add salt and baking soda.
- Slowly add polenta while stirring.
- Bring polenta to a boil–make sure you keep stirring the entire time. This should only take a minute or so.
- Lower to a very low setting, bringing the polenta to a slow simmer. Cover for 5 minutes.
- Remove lid and stir once more. Recover and cook for 25 minutes. No additional sitting will be necessary.
- While the polenta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet and saute the onion until it is browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add in the garlic and chickpeas, and cook for one minute.
- Add the lemon peel and juice.
- In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cup water until dissolved.
- Add the broth, basil and black pepper and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Pour into the pan, stir to mix, and then simmer until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once it boils, toss in the asparagus and broccolini. Boil for 2-3 minutes. Strain.
- Toss with lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt, to taste.
- Check on polenta, which should now be done. Add butter in to add an extra layer of creamy and stir in parmigiano. While these aren’t necessary, I definitely recommend it.
- Portion out the polenta into four bowls.
- Top each with the chickpea mixture as well as the asparagus and broccolini mixture.