So, I’m always perfectly happy to order edamame whenever I go to sushi (my preferred way of keeping up with my friend Kathryn). The salty, rough exterior and the green beads that pop out, almost crunchy yet tender make for a satisfying appetizer while catching up and wait for the main attraction. But that’s the only way I’ve ever eaten this legume (which is actually an unripe soybean)–and until recently I’d have been hard pressed to come up with any other way to eat it.
A couple of years ago I did try a slightly, ahem, unusual preparation of edamame. I can’t say I recommend it, even if I did have it one of those chic London spots in the City. It was a little matter of tiny white worm-like things–as slender and narrow as a filament–emerged from a bowl of bean pods that my husband and I ordered. Of course, being me, I had already downed a good portion of my serving before I saw these. And yes, in retrospect, I am not clear as to how whatever it was would survive the briskly boiling water edamame are blanched in. But I’m still convinced I saw something moving, and am all to aware that I only narrowly avoided becoming a pod person myself. Of course, I didn’t really look all that closely after the initial shriek–I may have thrown a napkin over the bowl while trying to catch the eye of one of the busy members of the waitstaff before whatever it was inched any closer. Fortunately, this is one of those things that gets cleared away quickly, no further explanation required.
Oh, wait, this is a recipe blog. Are you hungry yet? Um…moving on..
It took me a little while, but I got over it. After little H was born and I was looking for some protein-rich meal to keep me going through the sleep-deprivation haze, I found edamame pods heated quickly in (gasp!) the microwave to be a great snack. And it was a nice change from all the hummus I was eating at the time, and certainly healthier than knobs of cheese I also justified to myself as a high protein, high calcium (but maybe not great for losing baby fat) snack.
Then one day I grabbed frozen pre-shelled edamame–E & H love peas and I thought I could pass this off to them as an even more exciting “giant” version of their favorite veg, but my clever kitchen cons did not impress. So it was up to me to eat them, and rather than microwave them with a bunch of salt, I figured I’d better figure out something more interesting to do.
This recipe for edamame, sautéed with thyme and perked up with lemon, takes a bit more effort than dumping a bag of pods into a bowl and nuking them with a bit of water, but only just. And it’s fast–from freezer to plate in 10 minutes. Yes, the freezer–a saving grace for people like me who often forget to defrost things in advance. You probably get better results if you do defrost, so if you are better than planning ahead than I am, please do. But don’t panic if you forget–there’s bound to be something that slips your mind each day; let it be this.
A fast, easy, and healthy side dish that is a perfect last minute champion–that’s virtue enough, but what’s more, it’s always fun to try a familiar food in a new way. And I promise: no, er, hidden protein.
Edamame Sauteed with Lemon and Thyme
- 2T olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 sprigs of fresh thyme (substitute dried).
- 1 package of frozen edamame
- zest and juice of one lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil over medium low and add the minced garlic and thyme. After 30 seconds, add the edamame and raise the heat to medium. Stir frequently, until the beans are heated through and even start to brown a bit (about 5 minutes). Invert into a serving bowl, stir in the lemon juice and zest, adjust for salt and pepper, and serve.