Polenta with Lemony Asparagus and Chickpeas

Polenta with Lemony Asparagus and Chickpeas

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But the problem with asparagus, from a food blogger’s standpoint, is that it’s a vegetable that tastes best when prepared simply. Its delicate flavor needs no more adornment than, maybe, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of salt, and its texture is perfect with no more than the merest blush of heat. So once you know how to roast it, blanch it, grill it, or make it into pesto, there isn’t much left for me to tell you. A light hand with the lemon and freshly ground black pepper lets the fresh asparagus flavor shine through, and a sprinkle of pine nuts pulls the whole dish together. On second thought, maybe it is a little fancy after all! Add the polenta while stirring. Stir in the garlic and basil, lock the lid in place, and bring to high pressure. Reduce heat but maintain high pressure for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let pressure come down naturally. Stir well, salt to taste, and keep warm until ready to serve. Add the garlic and drained chickpeas and stir for another minute. Add the broth, basil, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the lemon peel and juice. Mix the arrowroot or cornstarch with 1/4 cup water and add it to the pan. Cook over medium low heat until slightly thickened. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch asparagus for 2 minutes. Drain well and toss with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, and coarse salt to taste. Divide the polenta among 4 plates, and top each with a quarter of the chickpeas and asparagus. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of toasted pine nuts over each serving. NOTE: To make polenta without a pressure cooker, use 2 cups broth and 1 cup water. Bring liquids to a boil in a heavy, deep saucepan, and slowly stir in polenta, garlic, and basil.

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