By Joanne Bruno | May 24, 2012

Some people’s happiness tends to hinge on asparagus season and while you could purchase asparagus out of season, you sometimes get shunned for things like that here.  Yet when that first locally grown asparagus finally decides to show its ruddy little face at the grocery store or farmer’s market it is advisable to buy it in bulk and find opportunities to creatively experiment with it.

Those first batches, especially, which are sweet and young, need nothing more than a quick roast in the oven.  Or to be tossed with broccoli rabe and chickpeas and a dash of lemon juice, all of which is then thrown over some polenta, as is done here.  Quick, simple and for the lemon lovers out there – utterly delicious.

Asparagus and Broccoli Rabe Over Polenta Recipe

Servings: 4
Calories: 230 per serving
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 55 mins


  • 4 cupsveggie or chicken broth
  • 2 cupswater
  • 2 cupspolenta
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tspdried basil
  • 1 tbspolive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cupveggie broth
  • 1/2 tspdried basil
  • black pepper , to taste
  • zest of 1 lemon , freshly grated
  • juice half a lemon
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
Asparagus and Broccoli Rabe
  • 1 bunch asparagus, about a pound, woody ends cut off and cut into 1-inch segments
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • zest of 1 lemon , freshly grated
  • 1 1/2 lemons, juiced
  • salt , to taste


1. Bring the 4 cups veggie broth and 2 cups water to a boil in a deep saucepan. Slowly whisk in the polenta, garlic, and basil. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring frequently in order to prevent sticking. Cook until very thick and smooth. Season with salt to taste.
2. 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 broth, basil and black pepper and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the lemon peel and juice. In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cup water until dissolved. Pour into the pan, stir to mix, and then simmer until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once it boils, toss in the asparagus and broccoli rabe. Boil for 2-3 minutes. Strain. Toss with lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt, to taste.
4. Portion out the polenta into four bowls. Top each with the chickpea mixture as well as the asparagus and broccoli rabe mixture.

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