Little Green Powerhouses

Easy, Fast, Fun

It’s always nice to see a great food get popular. The sushi craze was mostly good, and recent love for local food is a beautiful thing. Congrats also go to the lovable Edamame pod, which is riding a nice wave of public interest. Credit that sushi trend with bringing the bean along for the ride, introducing aficionados to the mysterious appetizer and making eating a soybean out of the pod look cool.

Like I said, it was mostly good. (except for the tuna population, but I digress.)

Edamame is now available frozen, in or out of the pod, making it as simple to use as frozen peas or corn. Before the sushi boom, it was marketed in Natural Foods type groceries under the nom de plume “sweet beans.” I thought it was funny at the time, that the packaging made it seem like some kind of high protein pea, and you had to look at the fine print to find the word “soy.” Then the sushi bar made the bean synonymous with stylish, light food eaten by celebrities, and the Japanese name stuck.

So, why do the slim and fab love the green bean? Half a cup of shelled edamame has the same amount of iron as a 4 oz chicken breast, 10% of the RDA. It also has 10% of the RDA of Vitamins C and A, both age-fighting antioxidants. For 120 measly calories, you get 11 grams protein, 13 grams carb, 9 grams fiber and only 2.5 grams of fat. So it is a wonderful whole food way to eat lean.

What is also working in its favor is the ease with which it slips into the pantry, and those frozen bags make throwing a few into just about anything effortless. No need to soak, cook, shell or poach, just measure a few into a strainer and run hot water over them, or throw into the pot with the cooking pasta or rice.

I created this recipe to use edamame in a dip, and it has been getting rave reviews all over. Some of you may have had it at a book event or a class, so here is the promised recipe.

Ligurian Hummus in Radicchio or Endive Cups

In Liguria, fresh fava beans are made into a purée for slathering on bread, called Marro. Edamame are a wonderful stand in for favas, and have a sweet richness all their own. Look for the smallest endive and radicchio you can find, for bite sized leaf cups.
Serves about 6
1/2 pound shelled edamamae, boiled and cooled
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded (optional)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 belgian endive, leaves separated
1 radicchio. leaves separated
2 medium roma tomato, seeded and diced

1. Boil the beans for 5 minutes just to soften a bit, then drain and cool. In a food processor or blender, mince the garlic. Add the beans and parmesan and purée, pouring the olive oil through the feed tube gradually. Scrape down and purée, season with salt and pepper. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
2. Serve 2 Tablespoon portions scooped into the wide end of individual endive leaves, or tucked into small radicchio leaves. Arrange the leaves on a platter and sprinkle over tomato. Can be made four hours ahead, covered tightly and chilled.