So, about 35 miles outside of Austin lives a nice woman named Marsha Stringfellow, without whom this salad would not exist. She sent me a sweet email trying to track down a recipe for an edamame salad that she loves. The more we talked about it, the more irresistible it sounded. She told me about the basic ingredients and I set about looking for something similar. The two best options I found were from Rachael (a.k.a. La Fuji Mama), and Nancy at A Communal Table. They are both beautiful recipes. I dare say I chose a simpler route, and a route without cilantro, but I encourage you to look at both of those recipes in case you want to incorporate a few of their moves. This salad is endlessly modifiable.
A word on edamame. Edamame is just another title for soybeans, picked at a certain time and enjoyed in a certain way. The pods are harvested earlier than they would be for other soybean uses. You will find them served in the pods, steamed, and covered in sea salt at many sushi restaurants. They are a terrific snack on their own. You will find them labeled “edamame” or “soybeans” probably in the freezer section of the grocery store. At one time I could only find them at Whole Foods, but now I can get them at the grocery store down the street. They come frozen, but previously parboiled usually, so they do not require very much cooking, and I cut the time that was called for on the packaging by half. If you have the option, choose edamame that is already shelled. Otherwise you have to boil them and then shell them. It is not a problem. It is easy to do. But you, like I, will probably be irritated when you discover that the big bag of edamame in their shells only yields about one cup of soybeans.
Better yet, this can also be a “salad bar” meal depending on how awesome your salad bar is at the grocery store. At Whole Foods (Park Lane, Dallas), on some days you can get everything in this salad already chopped, sliced, shelled and diced from the salad bar, including the edamame. Then you need only make the dressing and mix it when you are ready to serve. That is, as my husband and kids would say, “winner, winner, chicken dinner,” but without the chicken.
And while we are talking about convenience, I will also admit that while at the grocery store for the second round of this recipe testing, I selected a bag of carrots to take home and julienne, and then I went all the way back to the produce section and exchanged them for the pre-shredded carrots. This is a salad that can be made quickly and easily if you take a few short cuts.
1 cup frozen edamame, lightly cooked according to package directions
⅓ cup dried cranberries (or dried cherries)
½ cup sweet corn kernels
1 cup carrots, julienned
⅓ cup bell peppers, chopped
¼ cup chopped red onions, rinsed with cold water
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 to 2 teaspoon brown sugar (or honey), depending on how sweet you like it
Boil the edamame according to package directions. Dunk them in cold water to cool the beans and stop the cooking. In a bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients.
Measure the dressing ingredients into a small jar which has a lid. Put the lid on the jar and shake it until the dressing ingredients are combined. Pour most of the dressing on the salad and toss the salad. Taste the salad and add the remaining dressing, if desired.
I rinse my red onions or place them in a bowl of icy water before eating them raw if they are especially pungent. It rinses away the chemicals that make them so assertive. Give it a try. I like red onions, but I think the more “kicky” ones can overwhelm a salad.
And, many thanks to Marsha for giving me the idea to make this salad. And a speedy recovery to her Westie, Tootsie, who has been a bit under the weather.