A fast-growing, high-protein legume. Also called the “winged bean.” This bean is entirely edible, including the shoots, flower, roots, leaves, pods, and seeds. Tastes somewhat like a cross between the cranberry bean and the green bean.
The Winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus), also known as the Goa bean and Asparagus Pea and Winged Pea, is a tropical legume plant native to New Guinea. It grows abundantly in hot, humid equatorial countries, from the Philippines and Indonesia to India, Burma, Thailand and Sri Lanka. It does well in humid tropics with high rainfall. There are also varieties that can be grown in most areas of the U.S..
This bean has been called the “one species supermarket” because practically all of the plant is edible. The beans are used as a vegetable, but the other parts (leaves, flowers, and tuberous roots) are also edible. The tender pods, which are the most widely eaten part of the plant (and best eaten when under 1″ in length), can be harvested within two to three months of planting. The flowers are often used to color rice and pastries. The flavor of the beans has a similarity to asparagus. The young leaves can be picked and prepared as a leaf vegetable, similar to spinach. The roots can be used as a root vegetable, similar to the potato, and have a nutty flavor; they are also much richer in protein than potatoes. The dried seeds can be useful as a flour and also to make a coffee-like drink. Each of these parts of the winged bean provide a source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and other vitamins. The seeds contain 35% protein and 18% oil.