Ten Minute Tasty Asparagus and Brown Rice Recipe

A big bowl of asparagus, sauteed garbanzos, chopped onions, toasted almonds, tossed with brown rice and drizzled with a bit of garlic-tahini dressing.

Ten Minute Tasty Asparagus and Brown Rice

About a month ago I discovered the pre-cooked organic brown rice in the freezer section at Whole Foods Market. Plump, nutty-tasting grains grown in neighboring Sacramento Valley. This is no substitute for a fresh pot of my favorite fragrant, steaming Thai purple rice or a bowl of this earthy, rusty red -toned Bhutanese rice - except when it is. What I mean is this - in a perfect world, once or twice a week I get around to cooking up a big pot of beans, or a pot of quinoa, or lentils, or brown rice. I'll use whatever I make in bulk throughout the week in various preparations. All good in theory, but sometimes the rest of my life gets in the way. Over the past couple weeks when I'm in a pinch for time, don't want to eat out, and have a craving for a quick, tasty, home-cooked meal - I've increasingly been reaching for the freezer rice and whatever else I can forage from my cupboards and pantry. This leads to a string of both hits and misses, but luck for all involved, last night's endeavor was delicious...

I should warn you, today's brown rice recipe is a bit of a cultural hodge-podge - very tasty and filling, but clearly pulled from my 'global pantry' - a place where coconut milk regularly rubs shoulders with balsamic vinegar, soba noodles, mango blossom honey, and karigane kukicha tea. It's a big bowl of asparagus, sauteed garbanzos, chopped onions, toasted almonds, tossed with brown rice and drizzled with a bit of garlic-tahini dressing I had on hand. The tahini dressing went nicely with the nuttiness of the brown rice. I whipped this up in about ten minutes (this doesn't really take into account the five or ten minutes where I stand and stare blankly into my cupboards trying to figure out what to make)....Delicious the day after (hot or cold) for lunch.

Before we get to the recipe, a couple important things:

BOOK UPDATE: I want to thank all of you for your amazing support of my cookbook. By stocking it in your stores and libraries, writing about it on your websites, in your magazines and newspapers, and by purchasing copies for your friends and family, Super Natural Cooking is already going into its second printing! Also, a little bird told me that you will likely be seeing it this summer (nationwide) at Williams-Sonoma and Anthropologie.

I have to tell you, I had absolutely no idea what kind of reception a book like this would get. This one is a much more personal reflection of me than the first book on many fronts - the recipes, design, photography, etc. It also deals with a topic that can be hard to get people excited about - cooking with natural foods. I'm not kidding, my stomach used to hurt when I would think about the day it would hit the shelves and stand on its own. Those of you who know me in person know I'm not much of a hard-seller and have a hard time asking people to do things for me (see below) - so believe me when I say thank you for helping me out on so many fronts. Please know how much it is appreciated.

SPECIAL REQUEST: I know many of you have had a chance to spend some time with my book over the past month, and dozens of you have sent me unbelievably thoughtful and positive notes about it (thank you!). If you have time to log a quick Amazon review at some point that would be great. I think it might help people (particularly the ones who aren't familiar with my site) get over the natural foods stigma thing and give them a fresh perspective of what is possible.

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Ten Minute Tasty Asparagus and Brown Rice

I made this with brown rice, but you could certainly substitute other grains. I suspect quinoa or millet would make nice substitutes (or even a short whole-grain pasta?). As I mentioned above, seeking out the pre-cooked brown rice in the freezer section helps shave quite a lot of time in this recipe. But feel free to go from scratch with your favorite rice. Use two cans of chickpeas/garbanzo beans if you love them like I do - one can if you're only a general enthusiast ;)...

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 or 2 14-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch segments
3 cups pre-cooked brown rice
1 cup almond slivers, toasted
fine grain sea salt

Tahini Dressing:
1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped
1/4 cup tahini
zest of one lemon
scant 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons hot water
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

If you're using frozen rice (did I just say that?), heat it on its own in a pot or per package instructions.

Make the dressing by whisking together the garlic, tahini, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil. Add the hot water to thin a bit and then the salt. Set aside.

Add a couple glugs of olive oil (roughly 3 tablespoons) to a big skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl the oil around to coat the pan, then add the chickpeas and sprinkling of salt. Let the beans saute there for a couple minutes (I like to try to get some crusty color on them). Be careful, they seem to hiss and pop more then other beans over high heat. Add the garlic and onions. Stir for a minute. Stir in the asparagus with another pinch or two of salt, cover with a lid for a minute or two to steam - just until the asparagus brightens and softens up just a bit. Uncover and stir in the rice and almond slivers, reserving a few almonds for garnish. Taste and add more salt if needed (likely). Serve family-style in a big bowl drizzled with a few tablespoons of the tahini dressing, let each person add more dressing to their tastes.

Serves 4-6.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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After the first bite, my husband and I just looked at each other and said "wow". This is an amazingly wonderful meal. Just by chance, I had made Isa's tahini dressing this morning for my lunchtime salad. It was a perfect combination that I never would have thought of. Thank you!!!


I had everything in the house and this was so delicious I can't wait to eat it again. Trying to eat healthier and this sure does the trick. Thanks.

Linda Sheehan

Heidi! Like the others before me said...this came at a perfect time. Yesterday I bought a bunch of fresh asparagus and didn't really have a plan for it. I looked over this recipe, thought, I like all the ingredients and I need something interesting for supper. It was delicious. I can't wait to try the leftovers cold. Thanks for a recipe I'll make again and again.

Cindy S Grey

Perfect for dinner tonight after a long day's drive from Memphis! I have everything I need in the fridge/pantry. Can't wait for dinner time. Thanks, Heidi!


I just whipped up a version of this for dinner tonight..... instead of the tahini dressing, however, I added a good pinch of salt, a knob of butter, and a good handful of grated real parmesan. LOVE IT.


I thought the 10 Minute Pantry Stare was a prerequisite to every meal. Who knew? LOL. Congrats on the book!


Just discovered your book and adore it. Even at my advanced stage in life as empty nesters and grandparents, feel so much better with healthy, delicious food. After work, projects etc, your recipes are heaven sent. THANK YOU!


Sounds delicious! I make the tahini dressing you list above with two additions: a bit of finely minced fresh ginger, and a Tbsp. or so of miso instead of most of the salt -- it's quite good.


I've been meaning to pick up the book - is it out yet? But I've been so busy. I, among many others, am very excited that a book like this is coming out - there should be more emphasis on this type of cooking, and thank you so much for creating this book for all of us to enjoy and use in our kitchens! Congratulations on the second printing!


I have been buying brown rice at my local chinese takeout for years. Fresh, hot and steamy even less work than frozen. Chinese restaurants are ubiquitous at this point in time and I recommend this to the frozen variety. With my chinese takeout container in hand I go home and cook up some vegetables. Voila! I am tucking my chopsticks into my "home" cooked meal. I also recommend broccoli rabe as a perfect accompaniment. Enjoy!

rita Brookoff

i think it's so inspiring that your book had your stomach in knots because it's truly a personal creation. but know this...you have an incredible gift with food and photography. by sharing your compelling images - that might as well be scratch 'n' sniff they are so alluring - and turn people onto cooking with whole, organic foods...you can create change in this world. from the inside out. what a gift.

Sarah Mac

Love the sound of this recipe, especially the dressing, which sounds as though it might have multiple applications. And congratulations on the book's success... hope to see it in Australia soon! S


Second Printing!! That's amazing! Didn't your book only come out two months ago? Anthropologie!! That's like my favorite store, ever! Congratulations, and thank you for an amazing cookbook...v


I've never tried asparagus in brown rice but it sounds delicious. I like trying different recipies with vegetables and different kinds of rice. I will probably also add mushrooms to this dish.


Heidi: I was at a loss for something easy but not totally boring for tonight. I needed a side dish for my very carnivorous bf and his equally meat-eating brother that would be substantial enough for a main course for veggie me. Then I came here and saw this recipe. Brown rice (not precooked, but easy enough to make): check, asparagus: check, chickpeas: check, almonds: nope, but hazelnuts: check. I used a little sesame oil along with the olive, and mixed in a little lemon zest at the end. I made the tahini sauce, but we decided we preferred hthe dish without it, and served it with a lemon wedge instead. All I can say is "YUM!" It not only tasted good, it was pretty as could be. Plus, it was super, super easy. I can't believe I waited this long to make one of your recipes. Believe me, I'll do it again soon.


in Japan, we make large pots of rice and freeze the leftovers in small plastic wrap bags so its easy to heat in the microwave later. its still really good even if its been frozen. the microwave will take out some of the water so if you reheat it in there, sprinkle a bit of water on top so it still comes out soft. :)


I made something similar to this for lunch today, but as usual Heidi's version is so inventive and so much more healthy than the leftovers I had in my fridge. Dan, I freeze and re-use rice all the time. Brown rice more often than white, just because it really does take so much longer for brown rice to cook and I'm trying to eat more whole grains. I've also been known to throw the fried rice that comes free with Chinese food delivery into the freezer for when my husband is starving. He seems to think that heating it up in the microwave is some sort of miracle that comes from the force of my will, but he does 100-mile bike rides that leave him energy and brain power depleted.


About the frozen rice: has anyone tried to freeze it at home? I cook up large pots of beans on the weekends and then freeze them in 1 cup portions. I wonder if the same could be done with brown rice...


You really like asparagus, huh?


Thanks, this arrived just in time to prevent me from standing 10 minutes in front of the cupboard trying to make a decision! I'm forging ahead with quinoa instead of rice but the clever suggestion was just the impetus I needed. Kudos on the success of your book. I love it. It's beautiful!


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