The buttery green beans look like baby lima beans, don’t they? But they’re not. They’re soy beans — edamame (pronounced eh-duh-MAH-may) — harvested at an immature stage in their development. The word edamame literally means "beans on branches," as they grow in clusters on bushy branches.
If you are not familiar with these protein-packed beans, you’re not alone. I first heard of them several years ago from my son who was in college at the time. During his Senior year he took a gourmet foods class. He called to tell me they’d made edamame to eat as a snack. He liked it a lot and said I had to try some. He was in Fort Worth, Texas. I was in Bemidji, Minnesota. I was sure there would not be edamame in the grocery stores I shopped at.
My next trip to the store, I did find edamame in the freezer case. I bought a bag of the shelled beans. As my son had instructed, I boiled them for a few mintues, drained them and sprinkled them with coarse salt. I wasn’t impressed.
During the years since that first introduction to edamame, my son occasionally referred to the edamame he’d make for a quick, healthful snack. I couldn’t understand the appeal. Until I ordered edamame at a restaurant. A few weeks ago when I was in Minneapolis, I stopped at Chino Latino. It was my first visit to this hopping Minneapolis restaurant near Hennepin and Lake. Wok-Fried Spicy Edamame was one of the menu selections. I had to try it.
Oh, they were spicy all right. And they were served still in the pod. The server must have read the expression on my face when she placed the heaping edamame platter on the table in front of me. Acting as if she had to explain to all her customers about the eating part of edamame, she kindly told me how to do this. Slide the fuzzy pod that looks like a large sugar snap pea into your mouth and use your teeth to hold the beans as you pull the pod out between your lips, catching the slightly crunchy beans in your mouth. It worked. The edamame were hot and spicy and so delicious. I felt as if I was eating popcorn, quickly placing one pod after another through my lips, pulling them out, depositing the nutty beans into my mouth, leaving a big pile of empty pods behind. They were not only tasty, they were fun to eat. No wonder edamame is quickly becoming popular in restaurants and bars and home kitchens. It’s a hot and healthful food choice these days.
I realize now why my son likes them so much. He used the edamame in the pods. I was buying the wrong kind when I picked them from the freezer case at the store.
I made some spicy edamame a few days after I got home from my trip to the Twin Cities. I’m hooked on this healthful snack filled with vitamins and minerals. Edamame is a good source of protein and fiber, too.
After doing some research, I discovered the shelled edamame is often cooked and tossed into salads, pasta, soups and stews.
Spaghetti with Green Sauce and Edamame is a meatless main dish. In the time it takes to cook a box of spaghetti, you can make the sauce and cook the edamame. It’s a quick, healthful meal.
So, now I know — shelled edamame for soups, salads, pasta, stews, dips and whole pod edamame for appetizers and snacks. And, don’t eat the pods.
I’ve got it down. I can cook them. I know how to eat them. And I’ve got edamame in the freezer.
If you’d like to read about the hot and spicy edamame appetizer I made, go to my column this week. Click here.
Spaghetti with Green Sauce and Edamame
- 3 chubby cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 bunch of parsley, leaves only
- 1 handful of fresh chives
- Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 heaping cup frozen shelled edamame
- 1 (14.5-ounce) box spaghetti, uncooked
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Black pepper to taste
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Stir in edamame and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, according to package directions. Drain edamame and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water, just to al dente, or firm to the bite. Scoop some of the cooking water into a glass measuring cup, saving about 1 cup of the water. Drain cooked spaghetti and leave in colander while making Green Sauce.
Place garlic in a blender or food processor. Run machine to chop garlic. Add parsley, chives and lemon juice and process. If ingredients are sticking to the sides of the blender, pour in a tablespoon or two of the saved hot cooking water from the spaghetti pot. Run the blender until all of the ingredients are minced and mixed together. With the blender running, drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.
Place cooked spaghetti and edamame in a pasta bowl. Add green sauce and toss all together until pasta is coated with sauce. Add a little more pasta water for more moisture, if needed. Sprinkle all with grated Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.