For those vegetable lovers that enjoy green beans, asparagus beans, yardlong beans, Chinese long beans, or whichever name you call them, may just become your new favorite vegetable.
The asparagus bean, (Vigna unguiculata sesquipedalis), is a bean much like the green bean. Yet, it’s an entirely different species and unique in its own, interesting ways.
Keep reading for a full guide on this lengthy bean. We’ll provide you the full breakdown: what it is, how it looks and tastes, its nutritional profile, some cooking tips, and how to grow it.
How They Look and Taste
One of the names of the asparagus bean is the “yardlong bean.” Now, although they’re not literally a yard long, they do grow up to a remarkable foot and a half in length. Hence, the species name, sesquipedalis, is Latin for “one and a half feet.”
They’re an attractive shade of bright green and, despite being so long, they still grow to be about a centimeter thick.
Asparagus beans can be eaten either raw or cooked and has a crisp, nutty flavor.
Many people love green beans of all sorts, not only because they’re delicious, but because they’re incredibly nutritious. The asparagus beans ARE no exception.
Macronutrients are the nutrients in food that provide caloric energy. One serving, (100 grams), of asparagus beans has 47 calories.
Protein: Surprisingly, unlike many veggies, the yardlong bean has a good bit of protein. In fact, with 2.8 – 3 grams of protein per serving, about a quarter of its caloric total comes from protein.
Carbs: These beans are a good source of complex carbohydrates. They have about 8 grams of carbs per serving.
Fat: These beans have no more than 0.4 grams of fat.
The asparagus bean has lots of vitamins and minerals. While they’re rich in vitamin A and folate, one serving alone contains nearly a third of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
They’re also loaded with potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium.
Ways to Use Asparagus Beans in the Kitchen
The asparagus bean is a delicious vegetable, and you should have some recipes that include it in your culinary repertoire. Keep reading for ideas for meals, snacks, and kid-friendly recipes.
Asparagus beans, (Chinese long beans), are frequently used in many Asian recipes. Pinakbet Tagalog is a Filipino stew that’s as healthy and hearty as it is tasty. It’s loaded with vegetables, and, for a vegetarian version, you can easily substitute tofu for the pork belly.
Another awesome recipe to try at home is Chinese long beans with shrimp paste. This is a great dish to eat on its own or over rice.
It’s not just a variety of Asian-style entrees where these beans shine, but also numerous snacks and side dishes. So, for a quick, easy, delicious recipe that’s perfect for snacking, try this recipe for glazed Chinese long beans.
Another snack that’s fast, simple, and wholesome is Chinese long bean salad. One of the great things about a dish like this one is that it’s easy to adjust to your palate. There aren’t a million ingredients you have to play around with.
If you like it garlicky, add another half clove. If you like it less spicy, use one or only half of a chili pepper.
Kid Friendly Cooking Ideas
If you have a dehydrator, you’ll definitely want to try out these green bean chips. They’re far healthier than normal chips, but still delicious. Kids will love them. Try the recipe with yardlong beans. The exaggerated length-to-thickness ratio of these beans will help them crisp up very nicely.
Another popular dish that may work even better by substituting asparagus beans for green beans is green bean mac-n-cheese. The nutty flavor of these beans complements the cheese wonderfully. Additionally, using asparagus beans instead of green beans lets you really maximize the protein content of this dish.
Where to Buy Asparagus Beans
Asparagus bean seeds may be difficult to find locally. Try your local home improvement store or garden center. If they don’t have them, they may be able to tell you where to find them.
You can purchase green asparagus bean seeds online through Amazon. Or you can grow a stunning red pod asparagus bean variety available at True Leaf Market.
Fresh beans for eating may be available at your local grocery store. Given their popularity in various Asian cuisines, they’ll certainly also have them in stock at any good Asian grocery store such as H-Mart.
Growing Asparagus Beans at Home
When to Plant
Although these plants mature, rather quickly, (75-95 days), you want to be particular about when you plant. They don’t fare so well in the cold, especially as seedlings. Plant them in late May or early June for the best results.
Where to Plant
Don’t be fooled by how these beans look in their earlier stages. These are pole beans and shoot up rather rapidly during their development. You can use anything sturdy that will give your beans something to climb, (such as simple rebar poles), but they will need a trellis of some kind.
Make sure the spot you picked gets lots of sun. Ideally, the soil will be nutrient-rich and fast draining.
How to Grow
After you’ve selected your spot, soak the beans for a few hours to overnight before planting at a depth of 1-2 inches. Place them in the soil with the little white “eye” of the bean facing downwards.
Plant each bean with at least roughly 3 inches of space from one another.
They will grow vertically and quickly over the coming months.
Harvest them when they reach 10-12 inches. If you wait too long, their texture and taste will start to deteriorate.
Pest and Disease Prevention
Although most beans tend to fare well against pests and diseases, ailments such as powdery mildew or root rot are possible. You would also do well to guard against aphids and beetles.
Remember, it’s far better to act early on. Preventative measures are simpler and less taxing on the plant than systemic post-infection treatments.
For a wholesome, organic approach, try neem oil. Copper fungicides are safe, effective, and popular as well.
Delicious Nutritious Asparagus Beans
However you choose to enjoy your asparagus beans, you’ll likely fall in love with their flavor and versatility. Their nutritional profile alone is enough to earn them a spot on your plate, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that they’re delicious!
For more content like this, we at Minneopa Orchards have you covered. We love beans and, if you check out our beans page you’ll find numerous related articles ready to answer all your questions!