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Edamame are green soy beans, and most Australians anyway only ever encounter them in a sushi bar. They’re easy to grow in a garden though, and to me, they work so well as a snack food because they have a distinct nuttiness to them. They remind me more of boiled peanuts than anything else.

Which raises all sorts of ideas about fusion-ing them into dishes from distinctly non-Japanese cuisines. This is one of the ways I like them. It’s kindof like sprinkling toasted nuts through a salad. It makes it into a satisfying meal rather than a side dish. It’s almost like your body recognises that there’s the full range of macro nutrients in there.

So edamame which is a Japanese idea, in fattoush which is an Arabic one. The joys of living in a multicultural society!

The Recipe:

Boil the edamame, in their shells, in heavily salted water for five minutes or so until they are tender, then shell them.  (They shell really easily once cooked).

While the edamame are cooking, toast some pita chips.  I use my sourdough pita, cut it into little triangles, sprinkle with olive oil, and put them on a tray in a hot oven for a few minutes till they are crisp.  You could also fry the pita chips.  Cut them into little triangles and fry in light olive oil, or some other oil with a fairly high smoke point,  for a few minutes, then drain on brown paper.  Or you could toast them under the griller. Whichever way you go, you want crisp little shards of bread.

While all this is happening, you can add another layer of multitasking and make the dressing.  This is just a very simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing: good fruity olive oil and fresh lemon juice, and a pinch of salt, in a jar and shake together.

Assembling:

By adding edamame, we’re already going non-traditional, so I don’t suppose it matters what else you add.  This one has:

  • olives (green and black)
  • tomatoes (fresh and sundried)
  • feta
  • labneh
  • chopped parsley and mint
  • cucumber
  • lettuce
  • cooked, shelled endamame
  • pita chips

Lightly dress with the dressing – be careful not to drown it – and serve.  Or pack the pita chips and dressing separately so they stay crisp, pack the salad into a lunch box and make your workmates jealous.

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endamame

My glut crop at the moment is edamame, which are just green soybeans. If they are planted at the right time in the right conditions they are hugely prolific and pretty trouble free.  They are a legume, so they’re symbiotic with a nitrogen fixing bacteria in root nodules.  When you buy seed it comes with a little packet of innoculant as a starter population of the bacteria.  Because they have their own little nitrogen factory you can easily overdo it with nitrogen in the soil, which will make the plants sappy and thin skinned and attractive to sap suckers like aphids.  They’re good following leafy greens for this reason and fed pretty much like broad beans – bit of ash to bring the pH levels up, bit of seaweed brew to build aphid resistance, not too rich a soil.  They are also, like most legumes, heavy phosphorus feeders but  rotating chooks round my garden beds takes care of that.

They also like warm soil and lots of sun, and since ground space in my garden is at a premium early in spring while the brassicas are still bearing, they usually go in quite late. I planted these back in November.  And then they need long days to flower – they’re one of the many garden vegetables that are day length sensitive – so there’s not much point in planting them later than December because they won’t get time to flower before the days start shortening too much. We’re now past the autumn equinox and the days are shorter than the nights and shortening fast.

Put all these factors together, and what you get  is an endamame harvest season that is is short and very prolific. We have a very tiny fridge freezer, and I’m not a huge fan of frozen vegetables.  Though I love edamame in season, I know that frozen ones will languish in the freezer passed over for the fresh greens in the garden. They work well shelled and used like peas in most recipes, and they make a nice pesto, but that only deals with a cupful or so at a time.

Luckily, you can get rid of a glut of edamame very easily.  A few people, a warm afternoon, some cold beer, and a bowl of salted boiled edamame, and “morish” is really not a strong enough word.

The Recipe:

Hardly a recipe, it’s so simple!

Pick the edamame green but full podded.  Wash and put them in a pot, just covered with heavily salted water.  (I use about a tablespoon of salt per cup of edamame). Boil for around 5 minutes, shorter for very young beans, longer for older more mature beans.  Taste and you can tell when they are right.  Drain and serve in a big bowl for people to shell and eat, straight from the shell like peanuts.

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I am really loving tromboncino. Usually by this time of year, my garden is so full that I skimp on the sweet corn because I just don’t have room for it in my intensively fenced beds.  And if I plant it outside the netting, the bandicoots dig it up, then the wallabies and padimelons eat the plant, then the parrots and possums and brush turkeys eat the corn.

This year though, I haven’t planted any zucchini, and it’s amazing how much space that saves. Tromboncino work with all my zucchini recipes and the climbing vine is sharing the south side of a garden fence with tomatoes and taking up no ground room at all.  I learned last year how prolific they are, so I’ve only got four vines in, one in each of the last four beds I’ve moved the chooks off and planted out.  So they are at four different stages.  If I pick them young (like the ones at the front right in the picture) I can just about keep up with them, so far anyhow.

It means I have room for another round of sweet corn.  I have two lots in so far, one planted in August that will be ready for the first picking in just a few weeks now, and one planted in September that will follow on.  I missed sweet corn in the October planting – just not enough room to plant enough of a block so that it would wind pollinate.  Sweet corn is a herd plant – if you don’t have enough of them, the wind cannot blow the pollen from the flowers of one onto the silks of its neighbours, and you get cobs with lots of kernels missing.

I also have room for some endamame.  Or I will have by the time they are ready to plant out and I have moved the chooks on again. I love endamame but don’t plant them every year either.  Now is about the latest I could plant them, since they are day length sensitive and like long days to flower.  These ones will be flowering in  February, just in time before the days start to shorten at an ever increasing rate.

I shall plant the seed in the shadehouse today, coating each seed in innoculant and planting two to a pot in leaf pots filled with a mixture of compost and creek sand. When they are about 10 cm tall I shall plant out.  They grow to about 50 cm tall, so I’ll plant them out in a closely planted row around the southern side of a bed, in front of the climbers but behind all the shorter carrots and beets and lettuces and spring onions.

The dam is dropping but if we have a normal year, it should start to get wetter from now on, so with luck I’ll be able to keep the water up to a fairly full garden.

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It’s hard to go past eating endamame straight from the pod, just boiled for 3 or 4 minutes in heavily salted water.  They taste a bit like boiled peanuts to me, a kind of nutty seedy taste that is totally addictive. But for the   Tuesday Night Vego Challenge this week, I saved some for an actual meal.

They’re actually just young, green soy beans. I think vegetarians can overdo it on the soy beans. They’re high in protein, fibre, vitamins A, C, K and folate, iron and calcium, and also phytoestrogens that  might be good for you or not depending on your natural oestrogen levels. But they also contain a number of compounds that can cause health problems in excess.

But my main issue with soy beans is the way they are grown, with heavy dependence on GM modified seeds and herbicides.  My homegown endamame have none of those! And they are in season for such a short time, there’s little risk of overdoing it.

If you don’t grow endamame, you can find them frozen in Asian grocers apparently.  They’re a traditional Japanese favourite.  Or you could substitute beans or peas just cooked until they are al dente, or anything really – besides the endamame, it’s the dressing that makes it.

The Recipe:

Makes 2 large bowls. Double for more.

The Endamame:

Bring 600 ml water to the boil and add two heaped dessertspoons (or four big teaspoons) of salt.

Add a cup of endamame in their pods.

Boil for 4 minutes, cool enough to handle, and shell.  It will yield about a third of a cup of beans.

Noodles and Vegetables

While the endamame are cooling, boil a cake of egg noodles and blanch 1 ½ cups of julienned vegetables.  You can use whatever you have. For this lot I used carrot, snake beans, zucchini, pumpkin, but you could use a variety of vegetables.

Julienne a small capsicum

Toast a good spoonful of sesame seeds in a dry pan till they just start to colour.

Dressing:

Shake together in a jar:

  • 1 teaspoon each of crushed garlic and ginger 
  • little bit of chili
  • scant teaspoon honey
  • juice of half a lime
  • 3 teaspoons soy sauce

Taste and adjust the lime/honey/soy ratio to your taste

Assembling:

Toss the endamame, noodles, blanched vegetables, capsicum and toasted sesame seeds together with the dressing and pile into bowls.

Do you have a favourite fast, easy, healthy, in-season, midweek vego recipe?  Links are welcome.

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