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Fall is a great time to start experimenting with new flavors, taking advantage of the season’s bounty of crisp apples, tart cranberries, sweet squashes and nourishing kale. But in spite of the dropping temperatures and abundance of storage vegetables, many of us still crave regular infusions of fresh greens. Refreshing salads and sandwiches don’t need to be a signature of summer—you can keep growing greens all winter, with no greenhouse or coldframe required. In this article we’ll talk about three of our favorite ways to grow your own greens indoors, all year-round—with sprouts, shoots, and microgreens.
What Are Sprouts, Shoots, and Microgreens?
- Sprouts are tiny leaves and shoots grown without soil by soaking and rinsing seeds with water. They are exceptionally nutritious and are a popular topping for sandwiches, salads, and in ethnic food. They are very easy to grow using either a wide mouth jar and sprouting lid or a tray sprouter, and can be produced from start to finish in 3-5 days. They are much more affordable to grow yourself than buy store-bought, and they’re fresher too! They can be grown where space and light are very limited, and come in an array of terrific flavors ranging from popular mild classics like Alfalfa and Mung Beans to full-flavored varieties like Ancient Eastern Blend and Spicy Salad Mix. We love: Mung Bean Sprouts on Authentic Pad Thai and Crunchy Bean Mix Hummus
- Shoots are young plants grown to the cotyledon or first true-leaf stage in trays of potting soil. They are larger than sprouts and require a few more tools—a 1020
plastic tray, drip tray, soil, and a clear germination dome (like the one in our seed starting kit) are all you need to get started. You will also need a very bright sunny (south-facing) window or grow lights to grow shoots successfully. They come in a few signature flavors that will quickly win a place at your table: Pea Shoots with yummy fresh pea flavor are delicious on pasta dishes, Sunflower Shoots with buttery, nutty flavor are delicious as sandwich or salad greens, and Wheatgrass Shoots are great for grinding to make nutritious wheatgrass juice. We love: Pea Shoots on Orechiette with Parmesan, Megen’s New England Winter Slaw, Pea Shoot, Pomegranate and Chevre Salad, and Tempeh Spring Rolls
- Microgreens are similar to shoots—they are small, immature plants grown to the cotyledon or true-leaf stage, and they are also grown in trays of potting soil just like shoots. They require a bright sunny (south-facing) window, grow lights, or a greenhouse to succeed. They are smaller than shoots when harvested, and come in a great array of flavors, colors and textures to add excitement to virtually any dish. Try easy-to-grow Red Beet or Red Mustard to start out with, then graduate to delicious Basil and Onion microgreens for a gourmet treat. We love: Homegrown Microgreens Salad and
Grilled Zucchini Rolls with Chevre and Basil Microgreens
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
Pinch black pepper
6 oz. chevre
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
½ tsp fresh lemon juice
2 oz. arugula or microgreens
1 cup basil microgreens
Preheat grill or grill pan over medium heat. Brush zucchini slices with olive oil on both
sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then grill about 4 minutes on each side until tender. Set aside, ideally on cooling racks or paper bags.
In a bowl, combine goat cheese, parsley and lemon juice with a fork until well combined.
Place about ½ tsp of the cheese mixture ½” from the end of a grilled zucchini slice. Top with arugula and microgreens and roll, making sure the seam-side ends up underneath the roll.