Microgreens are miniature vegetables that pack an intense flavor in a small size. They have been used in haute cuisine since the 1980s, but are now becoming more widely available. Home cooks are discovering the many uses for true leaf microgreens in their kitchens, as tasty food accents that add flavor and visual appeal to a whole range of dishes. Micro greens need careful handling, which is why it’s best to buy them from specialist growers.
What are micro greens?
These miniature vegetables are often confused with sprouts and baby vegetables, but they’re quite different. They’re complete vegetables, with a stem and leaves. Microgreens are harvested when the pants are about two weeks old. They are bigger than sprouts and smaller than baby vegetables and typically measure just about one to one and a half inches in length.
The vegetables that are grown as microgreens are mostly chosen for their striking appearance, color and taste. Some typical microgreens include broccoli, watercress, carrots, beets, spinach, melons, cucumber and squash. True leaf microgreens have been around for twenty or thirty years, but until recently they were more easily available only for professional chefs. Now a number of specialized growers are marketing them for home use as well.
Handling and care
True leaf microgreens need very careful handling because they bruise and wilt easily. After picking, they must be kept at a temperature of 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Growers rate microgreens on a scale of 1 to 5, which correlated with quality ranging from poor to excellent. This measures visual quality as well.
A rating of three is considered to be the marketability threshold, and true leaf microgreens with a lower rating are not sold. Micro greens don’t keep too well in the kitchen or the fridge, and they should be used within three days for maximum taste and flavor.
Cooking with microgreens
They have an intense flavor that adds a nice touch to any dish. Chefs have used them as food accents and ingredients for maximum flavor. Their appearance is very appealing, and miniature broccoli, radishes, spinach and carrots all make a salad or sandwich more interesting. In fact, microgreens may also be a good way to get kids to eat their vegetables.
There are many different ways to cook with these tiny vegetables to add flavor and texture to food. They can be added to salads, soups and sandwiches. Flavors range from sweet to peppery, making them a great pizza topping as well. In side dishes, they provide a flavoring which makes them a great accompaniment to anything from steak to a fried egg.
Home chefs can use microgreens to add taste and interest to all kinds of food. These tiny vegetables can be used to brighten up any meal, from a regular weeknight dinner for the kids to dishes for elegant entertaining.