Serving Up Soy

The nice weather we’ve had this month has me thinking about gardening. I know it will be at least May until any seeds can be put into the ground, but that hasn’t stopped me from kicking around a few ideas in my head.

One of the best things about having your own garden is the option to grow your favorite fruits and vegetables. It’s some of the healthiest food you can find because you know exactly what went into producing it. It’s also economical. For the price of a few seeds, you can have a garden overflowing with fruits and vegetables all summer long.

One of the vegetables I’m thinking about planting is soybeans. From what I’ve read, growing your own soybeans is easy, and with a little care, you can enjoy fresh, green edamame all year long and all the health benefits of soy.

Soy is a complete protein. In fact, it’s the only plant protein that is equivalent to animal protein and has all amino acids. And in 1999, the Food and Drug Administration claimed soy protein lowered blood cholesterol levels, which improves cardiovascular health.

I’ve done a bit of research to see what kind of recipes might be suitable for edamame, and here are a few of them, which look mighty tasty.

Fettuccine with Edamame, Chicken and Mozzarella
1½ cups shelled edamame
8 ounces fettuccine
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 14½-ounce can chicken broth
2 chicken breast halves, cooked, shredded
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
8 small mozzarella balls, quartered
¼ cup pitted green olives, cut in slivers
½ cup shredded fresh basil leaves
Heat a stockpot of salted water to a boil; add edamame. Cook until just done, about 3 minutes; transfer with a slotted spoon to a colander, leaving water in stockpot. Rinse edamame with cold water; set aside. Heat water in stockpot back to a boil. Add pasta; cook according to package directions.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add bell pepper. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes; add broth. Heat to a simmer; add shredded chicken, turning to coat with broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
Drain pasta; add to the skillet and toss. Gently stir in Parmesan until it melts and coats pasta. Stir in reserved edamame, mozzarella and green olives. Divide among 4 serving bowls immediately or the mozzarella will become a melted mass; top with basil.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutrition analysis per serving: 585 calories, 26 percent of calories from fat, 17 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 55 milligrams cholesterol, 53 grams carbohydrates, 54 grams protein, 1,281 milligrams sodium, 8 grams fiber.

Crisp Summer Salad
1½ cups fresh or frozen corn
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped peeled cucumber
1/3 cup shelled edamame
½ cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup chopped avocado
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, combine corn, tomatoes, cucumber, edamame, red onion, and avocado.
In another small bowl, whisk together lime juice and oil, and then toss with corn mixture and season to taste.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 92 calories, 42 percent of calories from fat, 4 grams fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 9 milligrams sodium, 12 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams dietary fiber, 3 grams sugars, 3 grams protein.

Edamame and Walnut Salad
½ heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
4 navel oranges peeled and sectioned of 2 cans mandarin oranges
12 ounces shelled cooked edamame
½ cup walnut halves, toasted
Combine first 7 ingredients, whisk together until emulsified. Combine orange sections edamame, and walnuts. Just before serving, toss salad with about half of the vinaigrette, adding more if necessary.
Slice oranges between the membranes to make "supreme" slices of orange sections. Mix gently with the cooked edamame and toss with enough of the Ginger Dressing to moisten the salad. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as necessary. Crumble toasted walnuts on top and serve.
Yield: Serves 8.

Appleberry Edamame Spinach Salad
2 cups edamame, cooked according to package directions, divided
1 5-ounce container  baby spinach, washed and drained
1 Granny Smith apple, rinse, cored and chopped
½ cup fresh raspberries, rinsed and drained
½ cup fresh blueberries, rinse and drained
½ cup feta cheese
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
½ cup soybean oil
¼ cup sesame oil
1 shallot or ¼ small onion, grated
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
In large salad bowl, combine 1½ cups of the cooked edamame and all remaining salad ingredients. Toss gently to mix. In medium bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over salad in bowl and toss to coat completely. Serve topped with remaining ½ cup edamame.
Note: You can use individually quick frozen raspberries and blueberries.
Yield: Serves 6.