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7 Unusual Edible Sprouts and Shoots for Salads

Updated on January 10, 2015

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. - they offer over 100 varieties of seed, nutritional information, and sprouting tips are readily available. - 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:

5 Unusual Seeds Used for Salads

Hubs for further reading and education:

The Benefits of Black Sesame Seeds - a fountain of youth

Heart Healthy Kelp - "I'll Take A Little Seaweed With That Please"


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    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 4 years ago

      The bugs always find it when we try to grow something but growing your own does sound interesting.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @kashmir56 - thanks for stopping by and for the feedback!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great hub and awesome way to kick up any salad and make it more delicious and nutritional . Well done !

      Vote up and more !!!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @RTalloni - I'm glad to hear there are other fellow sprouting folk here on HP. I've not sprouted in awhile either and really need to get back into it. It's so much fun and can really add new flavors and textures to salads.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @snowdrops - thanks for commenting. I've not heard of mongo bean sprouts. I wonder if they are similar to something we have here. Can you tell us what country?

    • snowdrops profile image

      snowdrops 5 years ago from The Second Star to the Right

      Hello Kris! Never heard of those sprouts you mentioned. We only have here mongo sprouts, from mongo beans.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for the reminder to start sprouting again. Your list has some new ones for me--I definitely want to read up on the tritical and I'm sure the crimson clover would add some fabulous flavor to a salad. This has generated helpful comments too!

    • Enlydia Listener profile image

      Enlydia Listener 6 years ago from trailer in the country

      sprouts are awesome have motivated me to start growing (sprouting) them again. Thanks.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I did not know there were all these options. It doesn't look like most of these are available at my local grocery though, or I would've seen them. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @elayne001 - I"m glad hear there is a fellow sprouter out there:) I need to get back into it.

      I took a break from sprouting but need to get back into it. This is really the time of year to be doing it when there is much fresh produce locally grown around here!

    • elayne001 profile image

      Elayne 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      I enjoy sprouting and love eating them. I am kind of stuck on mung beans since they are so easy to do. I will have to branch out and try some of your recommendations. Thank you.

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 6 years ago

      I love quinoa and broccoli sprouts. For those who are gluten intolerant, they can start replacing their pasta with quinoa instead.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Very interesting and very useful. Some of these I had never heard of before. Good Hub. :)

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @anginwu - thanks for the comments. I may have to check out the book you mentioned!

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 6 years ago

      I recently read a book called the Maker's Diet and the author talks about how healthy sprouts are. I'm therefore glad to learn more about the subject. My usual is bean sprouts and I think it's time to discover other sprouts out there. Thanks and rated up.

    • pmccray profile image

      pmccray 6 years ago from Utah

      Love alfalfa sprouts not only in salads but as a great substitute for lettuce on sandwiches. Thank you for the additional great sprout ideas, nothing more boring than a plain lettuce and tomato salad. Thank you for sharing, voted up, marked useful, interesting and book marked

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for the sprout ideas. It's great to have some more interesting and healthy options to add to salads!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @SanneL @plussize-lingerie @ Gypsy Rose Lee @ randomcreative - thanks guys for stopping by and leaving comments:)

      With regards to the questions on can you cook with these...for most of them yes. Although, some of the smaller sprouts, like broccoli, would do better as just being added right the main dish is cooked, tur off heat, and they mix them in to warm them. They are tiny and they would wilt into nothing pretty quickly if cooked for any length of time.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I love alfalfa and bean sprouts and will have to check out some of these ideas! Thanks!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Thanks for the delicious and great advice on how to dress up salads.

    • plussize-lingerie profile image

      David Taylor 6 years ago from UK

      That's really interesting. I never knew that about Fenugreek.

      Can you cook with any of these as you can with beansprouts, do you know?

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 6 years ago from Sweden

      I am always looking for new ways to dress up my salads and I have found sprouts to be very nourishing and gives a great flavor to my salads. To grow your own sprouts is very easy, which you have shown here in this hub. I have to try to sprout some of these intriguing sprouts you mentioned here.

      Very interesting and useful!

      Voted up.