Vibrant, tasty and nutritious, microgreens can bring salads, smoothies and main meals to life. Their rich green and fuchsia hues are an ideal way to enliven a boring salad, garnish your favourite chargrilled meat or add verve to school lunchboxes.
You could consider microgreens as the youngsters of the garden. In age and size, they sit somewhere between sprouts and the baby greens found in the supermarket. Microgreens have a fresh, crisp texture if consumed soon after harvesting.
A miniature version of the larger plant, microgreens have a delicious, concentrated flavour. If you're seeking a robust contribution to a meal, radish offers an intensive peppery taste, while rocket carries a lovely, spicy zest. For a milder flavour, try sunflower shoots, spinach, tatsoi or beetroot.
Microgreens are highly nutritious, containing up to 40 times more nutrients than the same fully grown plant. These young seedlings are loaded with beneficial digestive enzymes and while they can be cooked, they're more nutritious and tasty when served raw.
With a rainbow of rich colours, microgreens can be used anywhere you would use sprouts or baby greens:
- In salads, frittatas or fritters
- Sprinkled over omelette
- On crackers with hommus or cream cheese
- With avocado and smoked salmon on toast or in an open sandwich
- As a colourful side for fish, chicken or chargrilled steak
- As a garnish for soups
Microgreens can either be grown at home (check out Getting started with microgreens) or purchased at your local fresh produce store or farmers markets (see Living Smart's Guide to accessing local food and supporting our local producers)
Microgreens can play a starring role as a salad base. For a simple salad, try a cup of mixed microgreens (add some cress, fennel or rocket for a peppery zing) with shredded carrot, avocado, and some toasted nuts or pumpkin seeds, dressed with quality olive oil.
If you're short of time, simply add a handful of mixed of microgreens to a tossed green salad. Microgreens can also be paired with a fruit such as strawberries or mango for added sweetness such as in this Microgreens with strawberry lime vinaigrette recipe.
Vegetable Burger with Microgreens
This recipe is quick and easy and can be adapted to vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters. Takes about 10 minutes. Serves 1.
- ½ ripe tomato, sliced
- 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
- ¼ cup microgreens (any variety or mixed) rinsed or harvested just before serving
- 1 large slice of eggplant cut 1cm thickness
- 1 large flat mushroom (can substitute with zucchini strips or red capsicum if you prefer)
- Mayonnaise and/or your favourite relish
- Bread roll (wheat or gluten free)
- ½ an avocado
- Cut fresh bread roll in half. Spread mayonnaise and/or relish on each side of the bun. Alternatively, use a whole avocado in this recipe, mash half and use as a butter substitute. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the slice of eggplant and mushroom (or other vegetables if using) to a frypan on medium heat with a little oil and tablespoon of water. Baste with vegetable juices for a few minutes turning once, until cooked and golden on both sides. Set aside. If using a meat patty, cook first.
- Add red onion to the same frypan at the other end with a little oil and water. Stir gently to brown for a few minutes and add a splash of balsamic or red wine vinegar to caramelise and add flavour if desired. If you prefer your red onion raw, no need to cook!
- To assemble the burger, layer eggplant, mushroom, onions, a dollop of relish or mayonnaise, microgreens, tomato, avocado and sandwich with the roll. Enjoy.
Involving the kids in growing microgreens is a sure-fire way to get them interested in eating their greens.
Microgreens are a great way to jazz up a lunch at home:
- Add to sandwiches, wraps or salads
- Mix through frittatas or omelettes
- Lay into rice paper wraps with other vegetables and some leftover cooked chicken
- Place a handful into a bento box with other snacks such as boiled eggs, carrot or celery sticks, or cheese cubes.
Colourful sides or garnishes
Draw inspiration from gourmet restaurants and celebrity chefs with creatively placed microgreens for sides or garnishes.
Bull's Blood Chard with an attractive two-tone appearance and distinctive beet flavour, Red Russian kale, purple basil, red cabbage and rainbow chard are colourful favourites. Even better, combine with edible flowers (note there will be a future story on edible flowers for a true paddock to plate look.
Keen to grow your own microgreens? Check out our story Getting started with microgreens or Anne Gibson's Easy Guide to Growing Microgreens.
Thanks to The Micro Gardener, Anne Gibson for sharing her knowledge and expertise for this article. The Micro Gardener site contains a wealth of information about microgreens, small space gardening and living more sustainably.