Once the days are lighter later and the temperatures warmer, I begin counting the days until the first farmer’s market of the year. Seeing the stalls line up and people loading their canvas bags with freshly picked produce means that we’ve survived another winter. In lieu of a champagne toast, I lift a spear of roasted asparagus. (After all, what ties better with the images of spring and rebirth than this rumored aphrodisiac?) I find myself eating asparagus almost daily, knowing that the season is short. While we’ll soon move on to many wonderful things like squash blossoms, bing cherries, and raspberries, asparagus’ days are numbered.
Today’s recipe is a celebration of all that is in season and taking center stage at my farmer’s market – the aforementioned asparagus, garlic, spring onions, and spinach. I roast chickpeas and asparagus (my favorite way to cook it), and then add it to a pan of spinach sautéed with garlic and onions, and dotted with the tart and tangy flavors of lemon juice and capers. I like to serve it over my easy breakfast polenta. However, it would be a mouthwatering spring meal over any grain, like farro, brown rice, or barley.
Roasted asparagus & chickpeas with sautéed spinach
- 1 heaping cup asparagus, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- ½ tsp + ½ tsp + 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup spring onions, chopped (Any variety onions or shallots will work here)
- 2 cups spinach, chopped
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp capers
- Salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Put asparagus on one baking sheet and toss with ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil. Toss chickpeas, nutritional yeast, and ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil on second baking sheet. Put both baking sheets in the oven and roast chickpeas and asparagus for 20 minutes, stopping once to shake the pans so that they roast evenly.
While the asparagus and chickpeas are roasting, heat a pan to a medium heat. Add 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil to pan and sauté the onions and garlic 5-8 minutes, until fragrant and translucent. Add spinach to pan and sauté for one to two minutes more, until the spinach has wilted but before it becomes gummy and overcooked. Add lemon juice to deglaze the pan. Add capers and combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
Once the asparagus and chickpeas have finished roasting, add them to the pan with the spinach mixture. Fully combine and salt to taste. Serve the Roasted Asparagus & Chickpeas with Sautéed Spinach on creamy polenta, farro, rice, or barley.