Also called goa bean, this tropical legume is rapidly becoming a staple throughout the poorer regions of the world where it grows. The reasons are basic: it grows quickly, is disease resistant and is high in protein. The winged bean is also valued because it's entirely edible, including the shoots, flowers, roots, leaves, pods and seeds. The pods, which can be green, purple or various shades of red, are four-sided and flare from the center into ruffled ridges or "wings." These beans have a flavor similar to that of a cranberry bean with a hint of green bean. The texture is like that of a starchy green bean. Winged beans may be found in specialty produce markets and some supermarkets. Choose small beans with no sign of discoloration. Refrigerate, tightly wrapped in a plastic bag, for up to 3 days. Wash and trim before using. Winged beans may be prepared in any way suitable for green beans. See also beans.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.