Thursday, April 8, 2010

Veggie Might: Roasted Asparagus and Chickpeas – Not-So-Risky Business

Written by the fabulous Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about all things Vegetarian.

Hee! It’s April 8, and I swear I’m still a vegetarian. Now that we’re back to reality, let’s get right to the vegetables.

As Kris pointed out on Monday, it’s springtime for asparagus (and baseball). There is nothing else I want to eat right now (or watch on TV). Luckily, both are easily had.

Normally, I don’t mess much with asparagus. It’s so delicate and flavorful, I just give it a quick blanch or steam and leave it at that. This week, though, I had people over for supper, and I wanted to try something new…with them sitting in the living room waiting to be fed.

Remembering this great post on roasting broccoli over at Feast, ReadyMade’s new food blog, I envisioned serving a salad with roasted asparagus and chickpeas. Of course, sometimes what I picture in my mind doesn’t always translate to the plate.

My meal plan wasn’t that risky. Roasting is kind of foolproof: hot oven + oiled up veggies × 15–20 minutes = time to eat. The X factor was the cup and a half of cooked chickpeas I tossed onto the baking sheet with the asparagus at the last second. Who knew what would happen?!

I whipped up a green salad and a grapefruit/ginger vinaigrette based on this dressing (I skipped the zest and used a whole grapefruit, saving beaucoup time), while the oven worked its magic.

With the ding of the oven timer, everything was ready, and it all came together brilliantly. Including prep, the whole meal took about 40 minutes to prepare, making for a perfect weeknight dinner or quick weekend lunch.

The asparagus was perfectly cooked and the chickpeas were just a touch caramelized and almost chewy—a success. Combined with the salad and garlic toast, we had the ideal, light, spring meal. The asparagus/chickpea combo would also make a terrific side dish.

Both my Charming Dinner Guest and C from Beantown were delighted with the results of my hardly-what-you’d-call labor, and so was I. The salad on the plate was precisely the salad from my vision.

I think we can all learn a lesson from my little tale: risk + asparagus = reward.

If you dig this recipe, you may dig:

Roasted Asparagus and Chickpeas
Yields 4–5 servings

1 1/2 lbs asparagus, snapped into pieces
1 1/2 cups (or 15 oz can) chickpeas, dried and soaked
2 tbsp olive oil
2 generous pinches sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1) Preheat oven to 400°.

2) Wash asparagus and break of woody ends from spears. Then break spears into evenly sized pieces.

3) In a large bowl, toss asparagus and chickpeas with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.

4) Spread evenly on a baking sheet and place on the center rack of the oven for 10 minutes. Stir, flip, toss, etc. the vegetables and put back in the oven for another 5–10 minutes or until the asparagus is tender but not mushy and the chickpeas have started to caramelize.

5) Serve as a side dish or over salad greens with a light, springy dressing.

6) Bask in the praise you will receive.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price per Serving
Serves 4: 168.3 calories, 6.9g fat, 6.8g fiber, $0.71
Serves 5: 134.7 calories, 5.5g fat, 5.4g fiber, $0.57

1 1/2 lbs asparagus: 90 calories, .5g fat, 9g fiber, $2.50
1 1/2 cups chickpeas: 403 calories, 6g fat, 18g fiber, $.21
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil: 180 calories, 21g fat 0g fiber, $.12
sea salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, $.02
black pepper: negligible calories, fat, fiber, $.02
TOTALS: 673 calories, 27.5g fat, 27g fiber, $2.87
PER SERVING (TOTALS/4): 168.3 calories, 6.9g fat, 6.8g fiber, $0.71
PER SERVING (TOTALS/5): 134.7 calories, 5.5g fat, 5.4g fiber, $0.57

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