What are microgreens, and how do I use them? Two of the most common questions we hear at Farmer’s Markets and at our pick-up locations are “what are these” while gesturing to a bag of strange looking miniature plants, followed by “how do I use them?” Never fear, we have answers here!
Those strange little leaves are microgreens, or shoots! They are the beginnings stages of a plant growing into other veggies you know and love, and those first two leaves, they're called cotyledons. Pea shoots are the beginning of a pea plant, and beetroot micros the beginning of a beet. These shoots and microgreens are harvested when the first leaves develop (the cotyledons). Because of this, they are small, flavourful, and nutrient dense. All of the nutrients and sugars are concentrated in a small area.
Now, how do you use these nutritional superstars? The answer: plenty of ways! We recommend eating them raw, because when cooked they lose much of their nutritional value and amazing, crunchy texture. You can eat both the stem and leaves, so you can snack on them immediately, no prep work required.
Sunflower shoots are especially popular for snacking on due to their burst of nutty, sunflower seed-like flavour. The way they explode in your mouth is addictive, and makes them perfect for snacking on raw, adding to salads, or to sandwiches! Another popular way to incorporate all the goodness of shoots into your diet is by adding them to a smoothie.
Pea shoots are the beginning two leaves of a pea plant, and have the same sweet flavour as peas. These are also great raw on sandwiches, in smoothies, and in salads. In Asian cuisine, pea shoots are commonly used in stir-fries. Another unique way to use them is to add them to your mashed potatoes (mashed potatoes recipe), to add some unique texture and flavour to an otherwise standard side dish!
Microgreens can have a wide variety of flavours, depending on the type of plant. For example, mustard and arugula microgreens are spicy and peppery, while chard micros are not. In general, the microgreen will taste like an intensified version of whatever it is growing into. There’s a multitude of ways to use micros; toss them in a salad for an extra kick, spice up your burgers by using micros instead of lettuce, cook them with your eggs, or make pesto. Essentially, however you would use regular greens, you can use microgreens (http://www.urbancultivator.net/tk-ways-kick-dinner-microgreens/)! The difference is in the intensified flavour and concentrated nutritional value.
Treat your taste buds while treating your body! To try out some shoots or microgreens with your next Harvest Box, try some shoots !