Name: Vigna unguiculata aka red noodle bean
Type of Plant: Edible landscaping! This annual vine produces long bean-like vegetables and is commonly called yard-long bean (an exaggeration), asparagus bean or snake bean.
Why I love this: In my garden the beans grow to about 18 inches long and they develop into harvest size every other day. I have about eight plants growing on a small arbor and I can pick enough for a meal for two people every two or three days. I also love these because while most red or burgundy beans turn green when you cook them, these keep their purple color. So they are pretty as well as delicious, with a firm texture and mild nutty flavor.
This would be another great annual vine for the edible landscape in full sun. The plants grow 8 to 12 feet in height and have small lavender pea-like flowers in addition to the fast-growing seed pods.
A Word to the Wise: Like most beans, this one is best when picked before the seeds become too mature. Cut them off when they are still thin and not lumpy. Don’t wait for them to actually become a yard long as then they will be too mature and not as tender or tasty.
I’ve sauteed these in oil with garlic, used them lightly cooked for salad, added them to a variety of sauces, and put them in chili, soup, and pasta. Because the red ones stay purple-red, they are especially attractive when used with other veggies. A tasty and colorful vegetable?