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Micro-greens! The new salad trend!

From: http://www.ifood.tv/blog/micro_greens

Microgreen Salad

Photography by Claire Freierman

A trio of microgreens, with Red Amaranth in the front. Eating them as salad is a pleasure for those with deep pockets, but buying a few boxes for a dinner party will give you the most beautiful, delicious and easy garnishes for almost anything you serve.

What are microgreens? They are tiny, tiny vegetables, no more than 8 to 14 days old, which have just developed their cotyledon (first) leaves. They are far tinier than “baby greens.” Think of the first threadlike shoot that rises when you plant a seed, and the first tiny leaves, barely a quarter-inch in diameter. You may have seen a few scattered on your plate or garnishing your food at fine restaurants.

Microgreens are very tender and oh, what flavor! Both intense and delicate, visually captivating and sublime to eat, they are a gourmet experience. Yet they are highly nutritious, with scarcely a calorie. For people who already like greens, microgreens are the zenith. For people who do not care for salad or raw vegetables use them as a garnish or in salads.

The flavor is great, the colors are beautiful but there is more…the nutritional value!

Microgreens are considered to be in the group of what are newly referred to as “functional foods” which are food products that contain particular health promoting or disease preventing properties that are additional to their normal nutritional values.

Microgreens have been found to contain higher levels of concentrated active compounds than found in mature plants or seeds. These tiny baby plants provide a convenient and concentrated means for absorbing the active compounds when made into a health drink which is commonly done with wheatgrass.
For many years now, a comprehensive range of significant health benefits have been claimed for fresh juice and freeze dried extracts produced from fresh young wheat and barley grass, throughout the world included Japan and the United States. Two of my favorites are daikon and Amaranth. I love the spiciness of daikon microgreens as well as daikon sprouts-really zest as a garnish.

With microgreens, less is more.
Their big flavors intrigue chefs!

“California,” wrote food historian Jonathan Leonard 30 years ago, “is the only place where truck drivers eat fresh salads without fear of being considered effete.” Theories abound about why salads have always been popular in California, especially since, in most parts of the country, they were disdained by all but the affluent.

Perhaps this open palate stems from the same adventurous spirit that drew people to the gold mines, or perhaps from the diverse mix of immigrants, many hailing from Asia and the Mediterranean, who settled here, bringing along a positive attitude toward vegetables in general. What we do know is that the Golden State’s love of greens is not new. More than a century ago, a visitor to California dubbed it “the Land of Salads.”

We have a salad with every dinner and often as a lunch entree choice here in California. I think Alice Waters really was instrumental in waking our palates up to greens.

Two early inventions in the salad category—crab Louis and green goddess dressing—were the inspirations of San Francisco restaurants Solari’s and the Palace Hotel, while Hollywood’s Brown Derby takes credit for assembling the first cobb salad in 1926. The rest of the country seemed content with the ubiquitous, yawn-provoking chunk of iceberg, with opportunities for variety confined to the choice of dressing.

I rarely buy iceberg lettuce unless I am making Asian Lettuce Cups with diced chicken, fresh water chestnuts, and a spicy sauce. The mélange of baby greens available is a least over 2 dozen just at my local Safeway. I always grow a spicy lettuce mix, and other favorites like arugula in my garden year round.
For California chefs and home cooks, the salad bowl became a culinary playground, tantalizing tumbles of bitter and tangy, of sweet, spicy, peppery. Beginning in the 1970s, words like arugula, mesclun, radicchio, and lamb’s lettuce slipped into the language, and the insistence on fresh, local produce became a hallmark of California cuisine.

2 Comments to Micro-greens! The new salad trend!

  1. Bill's Gravatar Bill
    June 8, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen the following statements made about microgreens on numerous websites: “Microgreens are considered to be in the group of what are newly referred to as “functional foods” which are food products that contain particular health promoting or disease preventing properties that are additional to their normal nutritional values. Microgreens have been found to contain higher levels of concentrated active compounds than found in mature plants or seeds.”

    However, I’ve never seen any legitimate studies that support these claims. I love microgreens, and hope the claims are true. Can you please tell me where these health claims come from? Is there a scientific study that shows they have :higher levels of concentrated active compounds than found in mature plants or seeds.” ?

    Thanks!

  2. David's Gravatar David
    June 29, 2010 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Do you have sources for nutitional content of microgreens?

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