What does a bean with a good imagination look like? If you’ve got the same tastes as Dr. Seuss then the ‘Red Noodle’ Bean or the ‘Yard-Long bean should be right up your alley. We have grown the former for several years in our vegetable garden, and usually just eat it straight off the vine—it’s so sweet and tasty. But it stays crunchier if you cook it, whether stir fried or steamed. Boiling, however, isn’t recommended—these beans get water-logged and tasteless.
‘Red Noodle’ (Vigna unguiculata) is, as the name suggests, a burgundy red color. What is exceptional about the bean (aside from its brilliant color) is that its average size is 18 inches long. It looks more like a jumbo Twizzler than anything you’d normally call a healthy bean. And, like most beans, the smaller, slender ones are the most tender—try to harvest when they are about 12 inches long and still slim.
Being a pole bean, ‘Red Noodle needs to be planted after all signs of the last frost have passed. It will scale up and wrap itself around any trellis or standing structure you give it. I generally give it a handsome bamboo teepee or an 8-foot-tall trellis.
If red is not your color, look for the green ‘Orient Wonder’. It is similar to ‘Red Noodle’ in stature, but tends to be a little slow to start in the early summer, so be patient and let it take its time to establish. ‘Red Noodle’ prefers warm, humid climates while ‘Orient Wonder’ can handle slightly cooler and drier climes.
Yard-long beans are sometimes referred to as asparagus beans. Here is a tasty recipe for ‘Red Noodle’ that I happened to find while floating around the internet.
Spicy Stir-Fried Red Noodle Beans with Peanuts
· 1 bunch red noodle beans
· 1/2 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
· 2 teaspoons soy sauce
· 2-3 small hot peppers or thai chiles
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 1 1/2 Tablespoons peanut oil
· 1 Tablespoons chopped garlic
· one small onion very thinly sliced
· 2 tablespoons lime juice
Cook red noodle beans in boiling salt water for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Transfer into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking, then drain and cut into 1-inch pieces.
Grind the peanuts in food processor until half are finely ground and the remainder are in large pieces. Stir together soy sauce, chilies, and salt in a small bowl.
Heat wok or skillet until oil is pretty hot, add garlic and stir-fry until golden, add peanuts and stir-fry about 30 more seconds. Add beans and onions and stir-fry about 2 minutes.
Remove wok from heat, stir in soy sauce, drizzle in lime juice and season with salt.
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