Polenta with Lemony Asparagus and Chickpeas

Course Main Course
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 276 kcal
Author Susan Voisin



  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or “no-chicken” broth
  • 1 cup coarse polenta coarse grind, such as Bob's Red Mill, not instant polenta
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil


  • 1/2 medium onion chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas or canned, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or “no-chicken” broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest peel, freshly grated
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon arrowroot or cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water


  • 12 ounces asparagus ends trimmed and stalks cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon lemon peel freshly grated
  • lemon juice to taste
  • coarse or flaky salt such as Maldon, to taste
  • 4 teaspoons pine nuts lightly toasted


  1. Bring the 2 1/4 cups water and the 2 cups vegetable broth to a boil in a pressure cooker. 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. (No pressure cooker? See note below)
  2. While the polenta is cooking, sauté the onion in a medium-sized sauce pan until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. 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. Keep warm.
  3. 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.

Recipe Notes

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. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until very thick (about 30 minutes). (Be careful and use a long-handled spoon because mixture can bubble and spit hot corn meal on your hand.) Add salt to taste and keep warm until ready to serve.

Also note: These polenta instructions are for cooking coarse polenta, not instant or quick-cooking grits. If you are using one of those products, follow the liquid/polenta ratio and times on the package.

Nutrition Facts
Polenta with Lemony Asparagus and Chickpeas
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 276 Calories from Fat 15
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1.7g 3%
Sodium 558mg 23%
Total Carbohydrates 55.6g 19%
Dietary Fiber 8.5g 34%
Sugars 2.4g
Protein 10.4g 21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.