Green is good and the newest green is the best. While root vegetables seemed to be the vegetable of choice for the last three years, the newest healthy ingredient trend seems to be micro green varieties of salad vegetables, including arugula, beetroot, mustard, and Swiss chard. Picked immediately after the very first leaves develop, these types of leafy vegetables are usually very sweet, and never strong tasting. What some call the confetti of salad has become one of the newest trends in the fanciest restaurants as well as in home kitchens.
In America’s constant attempt to provide healthier eating options, especially when it comes to serving more vegetables, micro greens and edible flowers can serve as stand alone salads or as tasty, wonderful, and creative food accents. Because they are both delicious and nutritious, micro green varieties are one of the healthiest ways to make a plate look appealing.
The following recipe is one example of a salad created from a tasty selection of micro green varieties:
Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese Crostini and Beet Greens
- four red beets
- three garlic cloves
- four golden beets
- one cup of micro greens
- one quarter cup yellow onion
- dash of black pepper
- one teaspoon of salt
- pinch of red pepper
- four tablespoons of olive oil
- two tablespoons of red wine vinegar
- two tablespoons of orange juice
- three ounces of goat cheese
Directions: After cutting or shredding the produce into bite size pieces, toss these ingredients together. Mix oil, vinegar, orange juice, and seasonings for the dressing. Pour dressing over the salad, sprinkle with goat cheese, and serve with toasted sourdough bread.
A trip through the produce aisle of an organic grocery store, and many regular stores as well, is a regular encyclopedia of young leafy vegetables that include everything from several varieties of edible flowers to petite micro greens. Touted for their fresh and wholesome taste, a growing number of micro green varieties are appearing on menus from fancy seafood and steakhouses in Denver to interesting Thai restaurants in San Francisco. While once only used as occasional garnishes for entrees, these tasty greens are now the centerpieces of salads throughout the country.
How Do I Know What Flowers Are Edible?
Adding flowers to your cooking can be an inventive and fun way to include both variety and color to your meals. If you are new to this practice, however, you are best to only add flowers that you purchase from the organic produce section of a grocery store. While many white flowers are edible, it is still best to rely on the grocery produce selection for your initial choices. In general, the petals are edible, but the stems, pistils, and stamens should be discarded. Flowers purchased from the florist have almost always been treated so these should not be added to food, even as decoration. Likewise, flowers picked along the roadside or at a public park, even though they may resemble something that you have purchased in the produce section, should not be consumed. It is simply too difficult to know if the roadside flowers have been treated with a pesticide or herbicide. No amount of beauty and presentation is worth the risk of getting sick from a flower from an unknown source.
Are Micro Greens More Expensive?
Because they are packaged in such small containers and have a pretty high price tag, they can seem too extravagant at first. Especially if your family members are not adventurous eaters, it is not a wise choice to start off buying large quantities of these young greens. Instead, experiment with adding small amounts of micro greens to the salads you already serve to your family. Through trial and error you will likely find some varieties of micro greens that your family finds especially appealing.
Micro greens are an interesting commodity. Because their growth time is merely one to two weeks, it would seem the cost of the hot house production would be low. In reality, however, because a micro green is only the first two or three leaves from a newly grown seed, they constantly need to be replanted. Organic gardeners around the country continue to experiment with improved growing practices for broccoli, basil, radish, sunflower shoot, pea shoot, as well as creating a a mixed blend, including, kale, radish, and onion.