With a sigh of relief, Minnesotans can finally put thoughts of winter fully aside (knock wood) and welcome spring. What better way to do this than by enjoying lighter dishes featuring young, tender, green produce?
After a long winter of snow-covered ground, spring celebrates all that is young, fresh, and new. Baby vegetables seem highly appropriate for the season. Edamame—or young green soybeans—fit the bill as they are traditional brown soybeans that have been harvested early.
Once only found fresh at Asian grocers, frozen edamame (also branded as “sweet beans”) are now sold alongside any other frozen vegetable in mainstream grocery stores. They’re also available shelled, as well as sold in the pod, making it easier to serve and enjoy edamame.
Because April is National Soyfoods Month, edamame—and all forms of soy, really—are an apt menu choice. Shelled green sweet beans can be included in stir-fries, pasta dishes, soups, stews, casseroles, and salads. When cooked until especially tender, they can be pureed into dips and creamy soups or sauces. Edamame can also be served solo as a side, whether roasted, boiled, sautéed, or steamed. Purchased in-the-pod, edamame make a fun finger food when steamed and lightly salted.
Besides being appropriate for the season, edamame offer many health benefits. As a whole (unprocessed) soyfood, these young soybeans are packed with heart-healthy soy protein, fiber (8 grams per cup!), the B vitamin folate, and minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium. As well, soybeans are cholesterol-free and extremely low in fat. (Sweet beans have about six grams of fat per cup compared to 15 grams per cup in the more mature brown soybeans.) Going beyond nutrition basics, soyfoods offer genistein—a phytochemical found shown to possibly reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
Health benefits aside, edamame are an easy sell on the table as they lack the heavy beany flavor associated with mature soybeans and other legumes. Aptly named sweet beans are just that—sweet, crisp, and full of great flavor. They’re tasty when served simply, with just a sprinkle of salt. But they’re also easily dressed up with herbs and spices of all sorts. Roasting amplifies their sweetness, making the following recipe perfect for this—or any—season.
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (ground red pepper)
1 (10-ounce) bag frozen shelled edamame (2 cups)
Heat oven to 375ºF. Coat baking sheet with sides with cooking spray.
In medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil, maple syrup, soy sauce, paprika, cumin, garlic salt, and cayenne. Add edamame; stir to thoroughly coat. Spread evenly over baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through and fragrant. Makes 4 servings.