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7 Unusual Edible Sprouts and Shoots for Salads
Copyright 2011 - Kris Heeter
One easy way to dress up a dull salad and expand the nutrient content is to add sprouts and small edible shoots. Sprouts typically have a more concentrated nutrient content than their elder adult versions, making them an ideal source for getting key nutrients easily.
Alfalfa sprouts and bean sprouts are probably the most common sprout additions you'll find in your local grocery store, but why not think outside the box and create some new combinations. Many sprouts can be grown quite easily in your kitchen! Young plant shoots can come from gardens and farmers markets.
Here are seven interesting sprouts and young shoots to try:
1. Quinoa sprouts
Quinoa is a grain that dates back to the period of Incan Indians. Most commonly found as a white grain, it sprouts easily in a jar (within a few hours) and is ready to eat within 1-4 days.
Red and black varieties can also be found!
2. Tritical sprouts
Tritical is also a grain. It contains more protein than other similar grains like wheat and rye. Tritical is a slightly sweet sprout, as is wheat and rye, if used within 2-3 days (before fuzzy rootlets appear).
It also sprouts quite nicely in a jar.
3. Crimson clover sprouts
Crimson (red) clover spouts in 4-7 days and can taste similar to alfalfa sprouts. Yellow clover is another option but it has been described by some as more bitter.
As with the above sprouts, it can be easily grown in a jar!
4. Broccoli sprouts
Broccoli sprouts took center stage in 1997 when a scientific study came out titled: "Broccoli Sprouts: An exceptionally rich source of induce of enzymes that protect against chemical carcinogens."
These young sprouts host a wide assortment of vitamins and phytonutrients that have been shown to suppress tumor growth.
It is easily grown in jars or on trays.
5. Fenugreek sprouts
Fenugreek is commonly known as a spice but it's actually a legume. It can be sprouted and ready in 2-4 days. The seeds look like large alfalfa seeds. The longer they are allowed to sprout (and become green), the more bitter they tend to become.
These can be sprouted in jars.
6. Pea Shoots
Pea shoots can be harvested 2-4 weeks after germination. Young, tender leaves have a wonderful pea flavor.
Shoots that include stems and leaves can be mixed with other greens in salads or can be used in stir fry.
7. Fiddlehead Fern shoots
Not all fiddleheads are edible. Young tender shoots from three species in North America can be used: Matteucia struthiopteris (ostrich fern), Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern), and Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern).
The mature fronds from these species should not be eaten and it's best to find someone that collects and sells tender shoots at your local farmers market.
Easy and quick way to sprout
Sources of sprouts
There are a number of online sources of sprouts. I personally have used the following ones because the seeds are organic and free of pesticides.
www.sproutpeople.org - they offer over 100 varieties of seed, nutritional information, and sprouting tips are readily available.
www.sproutman.com - seeds, books, CDs and a sproutblog.
Combine these unusual sprouts with unusual seeds
Salads no longer have to be boring. Mixing sprouts with other unusual toppings like seeds and dried fruits and nuts can be lead to some wonderful DIY gourmet salad
Another hub to help you explore more unusual salad options:
Hubs for further reading and education: