Microgreens: they sound like they belong on the Food Network, or perhaps on a trendy menu in a Portland restaurant. But microgreens can actually be a tasty and simple addition to your everyday culinary routine. Intrigued? Read on to get the answers to the three most frequently asked questions regarding this ingredient:
- What Are Microgreens?
Despite their name, microgreens aren’t simply smaller leaves. Microgreens are the shoots of salad vegetables or herbs that are picked soon after developing, consisting of a stem plus leaves (don’t get them confused with sprouts; typically, they’re picked after the first true set of leaves emerge from the soil). Arugula, beet, basil, kale, chard, cress and cilantro are all common varieties, but cucumber, mustard and radish microgreens are newer varieties gaining popularity.
- What Are Their Benefits?
Microgreens may be small, but they pack a flavorful punch. Some are sweet, some are more bitter, some are spicy and peppery, and some have a bright citrus-like flavor. Their petite size can also add texture to a dish. And they’re often extremely attractive, to boot; if you’re looking to add a splash of color to your plate without resorting to inedible garnishes, microgreens are an excellent option.
- What Recipes Can Use Them?
Microgreens can be used in endless dishes, from appetizers to soups to entrees — even desserts! Bitter microgreens like arugula can add a new dimension to salads; acidic microgreens can provide color, texture and flavor contrasts when topping creamy soup; and sweet micro herbs can add sophistication to a classic dessert like chocolate cake. You can even throw some into gourmet cocktails. If you’re looking for an easy start, try adding microgreens on top of a thin-crust pizza or in tacos. Once you start experimenting, you’re likely to find dozens of other recipes that can benefit from a microgreen boost.
If you’re comfortable cooking outside the box, you might want to consider other less traditional edible options for beautifying your dishes, such as edible flowers. Have you used any of these specialty ingredients before? Do you have recipes to share? Chime in using the comments section!