Winter 2003-2004
By Roberta Bailey

This summer I trialed 10 varieties of green soybeans for a local seed company. I planted and labeled each variety carefully, then took notes at various stages of development. The crowning event was the edamame (green soybean) taste-off. I steamed each variety separately, then shelled them into individual bowls. All of them had the delicious, nutty taste of green soybeans, but three were a little sweeter: ‘Sayamasume,’ ‘Beer Friend’ and ‘Shironomai.’ My old favorites, ‘Shirofumi’ and ‘Maple Glen,’ were delicious but not in the top three. ‘Beer Friend’ had larger beans than the others.

With so many green soybeans, I experimented with a lot of recipes. My favorites featured the simple flavor of the soy instead of masking it. I think these beans are great plain or with a little pepper. Some people would like salt. They are also very good added to rice: Just cook the rice and stir the thawed or steamed and shelled green soybeans into the just-cooked hot rice, about 1/4 cup beans for every cup of cooked rice. The rice warms them without over-cooking. Try adding them to a three-bean salad.

To prepare edamame or green soybeans, steam or blanch the pods in boiling water for 5 minutes, then plunge the hot pods into cold water. Drain and shell the beans. Frozen soybeans are available in health food stores: Look for organic brands, as many soy crops are genetically modified.

Summer Succotash

1-1/2 cups corn kernels

1 cup shelled green soybeans

1/2 cup diced carrot

1/4 cup diced sweet red pepper

freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

Steam the carrot until it is just tender. Heat the corn, soybeans and carrot until warm. Add the red pepper. Serve with pepper and salt to taste. Serves 2 to 3.

Shirofumi Pasta

3 carrots, finely diced

2 cups green soybeans, shelled

1 cup tiny pasta, cooked and drained

2 fresh tomatoes, cubed

1/4 cup snipped chives or minced scallion

3 Tbsp. white or dark balsamic vinegar

2 to 3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. dried or fresh minced basil

1 small clove garlic, minced

Salt to taste

Steam the carrots for two to three minutes or until tender, then drain and place them in a large bowl. Add the soybeans, pasta and chives. Whisk together the vinegar, oil and herbs. Toss with the pasta, then toss in the tomato. Let the dish sit for 30 minutes to marinate before serving.

Serves 3 to 4.

Potato Curry

2 lbs. potatoes cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 cup peas

1 cup shelled green soybeans

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. minced ginger root

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. turmeric

1/2 tsp. cayenne

1 cup yogurt

1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro or parsley

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Steam the potatoes until they are almost tender. Add the peas and soybeans for the last two to three minutes. Set aside. In a large frying pan over medium heat, sauté the onion, garlic and ginger in the olive oil until wilted. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne, cooking for two minutes. Add the potato mixture. Toss to cover, then heat through. Remove from heat and gently fold in yogurt and lemon juice. Garnish with cilantro.

Serves 4.

Butternut and Soybean Risotto

1 lb. butternut squash, cleaned, skinned and cubed small

6 sage leaves

Salt and pepper

7 to 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock

6 Tbsp. butter

2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 cups shelled green soybeans

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish

In a heavy-bottomed pot, cook the squash with two sage leaves, minced, and 1 cup stock until tender. Dice the onion and mince four sage leaves. Sauté in 3 Tbsp. butter until the onion is translucent. Heat the stock to a simmer in a separate pot. Add the rice to the onion and sauté until translucent, about three minutes. Turn the heat up and pour in the wine. Cook until the wine is absorbed, then add just enough hot stock to cover the rice; stir well and reduce the heat.

Keep the rice at a gentle simmer and continue to add stock a half-cup at a time, letting each addition be absorbed by the rice. Once cooked (about 15 minutes), stir in the squash and the soybeans, the rest of the butter, and the cheese. Continue to cook for three to five minutes. Taste for texture; add more stock if needed. Salt and pepper to taste. When done, serve in warm bowls and garnish with Parmesan.

Serves 6 to 8.

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