The Creative Cook: You Don't Have to Steam Asparagus

Sherry McGuinn

This Asparagus and Chickpea "MishMash" makes for a delicious use of seasonal produce.
Photo byAmy Stephenson/Flickr.Com

Are you like me? Whenever I'm stumped by the "what should I make for dinner?" quandary, I often like to create my own recipes. Most of which are not precise but manage to satisfy, nonetheless.

My latest utilizes a veggie that, as we finally head into Spring in the Chicago area is on sale at local markets, including Jewel-Osco.

Whenever my husband watches me throw together odds and ends from our fridge and pantry to concoct a meal, he asks me what I'm making. My answer is usually, "oh, just some mishmash." And, I recently came up with a new one that I just had to share, strange as it may sound.

The other day, enticed by its BOGO deal, I bought two packages of trimmed asparagus tips, for a little over four bucks for both. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them other than the usual "steam and eat," but I knew I wanted to incorporate chickpeas, or garbanzo beans if you prefer. Why? Because I love these little protein bombs! They add a creamy, velvety pop to salads, stir-fries, casseroles, and more. I've even made a "chicken-less" chicken salad with chickpeas, mayonnaise, celery, and red onion. It's incredibly yummy and really. mimics the flavor of chicken salad.

I decided to get creative with my budget veggie. I chopped some fresh garlic and sauteed it in extra virgin olive oil just until it turned that lovely golden-brown color. Then, I tossed in both packages of the asparagus, the stalks of which I cut in half to make them easier to eat. I moved that around for a bit with a spatula and then added one can of drained, rinsed, and dried (with paper towels) chickpeas.

I turned up the heat to medium-high and stirred my mash until the chickpeas started to soften and the asparagus took on that gorgeous, vivid green color that signals balmy days ahead.

Finally, I cut a bunch of grape tomatoes in half and tossed them into the pan to cook down. I have to say, with the addition of the tomatoes, with their bright, red hue, I was concocting a gorgeous dish.

But, would it taste good?

Up until now, I hadn't added any spices or condiments other than fresh garlic. So, I added kosher salt and a liberal sprinkling of cayenne pepper to the mash because I love its kick. I also added some shredded cheddar cheese as a final fillip and watching it melt into a silky, unctuous "sauce" was a beautiful thing to behold. I couldn't wait to dig in. By the way, feta cheese would be spectacular, as well.

Admittedly, the first time I made this creation, I overcooked it a bit and the asparagus was more tender than crisp, but that said, it was still fantastic!

Next time, I may throw in corn kernels as they add the perfect hint of sweetness to this savory dish. Also, as you see, any kind of pasta would make for a heartier main dish, like in the picture up top. Really, with this mishmash, you're limited by your own imagination. So, grab some asparagus while it's on sale, a can or two of chickpeas, and some grape tomatoes (also on sale at Jewel-Osco), and give it a shot.

Enjoy and as always, thanks for reading.

© Sherry McGuinn, 2023. All Rights Reserved.

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My goal is to educate, entertain, make you laugh, and above all, make you think. I will be running the gamut as far as my articles go because I have a restless mind and I allow it to ramble where and when it wants. I hope you enjoy what I'm looking forward to sharing with you. If so, I'd love for you to follow me. Thanks for reading.

Chicago, IL

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