Spring for Sprouts (with a salad recipe)

Every year I post something on sprouts, those lovely little greens that are crunchy and flavorful. Articles have been written about the danger of sprouts because of bacteria, but I have been growing them for more than 35 years without a problem. Perhaps the best way to avoid the issue is to grow your own from organic seeds in jars or baby greens in soil, now called micro greens, such as pea shoots and grasses. Rather than repeat the sprouting information, here is the link to the article I did last fall: Sprout Heaven.

 

Instead of the information that is already in Sprout Heaven, here is a list of ideas for using sprouts from my book The Johnny Alfalfa Handbook (See My Books for ordering.) and a bean recipe with sprouts.

Sprout Ideas

1. Put alfalfa, clover, radish and other delicate sprouts or micro greens in sandwiches in place of lettuce. Their moisture and flavor surpass lettuce.

2. Add mung, soy, lentil (that is, bean sprouts) to stir-fried veggies, stews and casseroles near the end of cooking.

3. Right before serving soup, top with lentil sprouts. Instead of croutons, serve “sproutons.”

4. Top raw appetizers with clover, alfalfa or radish sprouts.

5. Mix sprouts into your favorite dip for a crunchier consistency.

6. Add sprouted grains (ex. wheat, rye, oats) to pancake batters, baked goods, veggie burgers, and potato pancakes.

7. Add micro greens to potato salad, egg salad, tuna salad, and omelettes.

8. Blend radish sprouts into your favorite salad dressing for extra zest.

9. Stir sprouted wheat or rye berries into oatmeal or other hot cereal at the end of cooking.

10. Garnish hoagies or pizza with sprouts.

Be creative! Actually, sprouts and micro-greens are as versatile as your imagination. Enjoy them for taste, nutrition and fun. (Sprouting is a great science project for kids.)

White Bean Salad for Spring

Utensils: Cutting board & knife, pot for beans if cooking them, strainer, small bowl & serving bowl
Prep. Time: 15 minutes if beans are cooked
Cooking Time: 25 minutes if cooking beans; otherwise, none
Categories: Vegan, Gluten-free

Ingredients

1- 1 1/2 c. cooked cannellini (white kidney) or great northern (white bean) *
2-3 scallions, trimmed and chopped (mostly white with a little green from stems)
1/2 carrot, grated

Dressing

1 Tbl. oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. mustard
dill to taste

Directions

Note: If using dried beans: soak overnight, drain, spread onto a brownie sized baking pan, freeze a few hours & then cook for about 20 minutes. (Freezing cuts down on cooking time.) Or skip the freezing and just cook the soaked beans until tender.

1. Drain canned beans and place in a serving bowl. Add chopped scallions and grated carrots. Toss.
2. Whisk the oil, lemon juice, mustard, and dill in a small bowl. Pour over beans & greens and toss well before serving.
3. Garnish with sprouts of your choice. You can also mix them into the salad, but the sprouts tend to get soggy, so only mix them in if you plan to use the whole salad. (Or if you like soggy sprouts!)

Variation: I had some leftover wild rice that I had cooked for a mushroom soup recipe with wild rice. (I didn’t like the color of the soup so I did not post it, even though it tasted good.) I added it to the salad the day after I made it and had only a little left. By mixing in the wild rice, I had enough for my dinner and it also gave color to the dish. (See photo below.)

Wild Rice & White Bean Salad with Sprouts

* I used dried beans that I reconstituted with water and soaked overnight, drained, froze, and then cooked in water ’til tender, so the amount is approximate. If you use canned beans, I recommend organic beans from Eden Foods without BPA in the lining, which has shown to cause problems. (See photos below) You can use the whole can, drained, or use two cans and double the recipe for company.

Sprout Heaven!

When I co-owned an indoor sprout farm in the late 1970s until the early 1990s, people were fascinated with the idea of growing food indoors without a greenhouse. The sprouts were in large drums and we used indoor lighting for greening. My youngest child had a friend in grammar school (mid- 1980s) who came to see our sprouting operation. He was so in awe, he uttered, “Wow! Sprout Heaven!”

 

These are baby greens that I harvested to use in salads and sandwiches. They include lentil, sunflower, and buckwheat greens.

That’s exactly how I felt this past week growing sprouts for a demonstration for the Philadelphia Horticulture Society.  My dining room table became a virtual sprout heaven. (Unfortunately, the tail end of hurricane Isaac interrupted my plans and the demo was cancelled since it was to be held outdoors.)

The ironic thing is that sprouts can be grown indoors all year long, without worrying about the weather. But the event was cancelled because of stormy weather.  Even though the event was cancelled, I have all the sprouts to show you & hopefully inspire you to sprout, especially in the winter, when many of us do not have outdoor gardens because we live in the northern part of the country.

Because I have written about sprouts before*, I just want to give you some additional hints that I learned while experimenting with jar sprouts and soil sprouts, also called baby greens. (The picture above is baby greens that have been harvested, that is, cut down from mini-garden boxes. See below.)

Baby Greens grown in containers with organic potting soil.

*Note: If you look on the right hand margin of the Home Page, there is a an archival list of postings by year. I wrote several articles in 2011 in April & May called Springin’ Sprouts, Sprouted Wheat Tabouli, Lentil Pate, a DVD review on Sprouting: Seeds of Sustainability and this year in March, Clover Sprouts for Spring.

Here are some sprout hints:

1. When you soak your seeds, don’t put in too many because they multiply. About one tablespoon per quart jar is plenty for a full jar when harvested.

2. When you are using small seeds, like alfalfa and clover, don’t over soak; 4 to 6 hours are plenty. Drain well and lay the jar at an angle to allow residual rinse water to drain completely. See photo below.

This is a sprouting timeline. Each day I soaked a new jar and grew the first jar for 5 to 6 days to show the growth day by day.

3. If you are concerned about bacteria while sprouting, you can try a hint sent to me by my friend Gurelle, also an avid sprouter in Florida. She picked up a sheet on hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) that said you can dilute 2 Tbl. of H2O2 in 2 cups of water and use that for soaking & rinsing. (I believe that the bacteria problem is derived from not giving your sprouts a “bath” once they are sprouted and allowing the hulls to rise to the top to be skimmed off.) But the H2Os is a good idea, too.

4. When you are sprouting baby greens, be sure to give the soil a drink of water every other day. There are only about 2- 3 inches of soil in the recycled container I use, so the soil dries out quickly.

5. Keep your harvested sprouts in a glass jar. They will last much longer. I just used up a jar of sprouts that I had for more than 2 weeks in the ‘frig. I purposely watched for spoilage every day and found none. But my sprouts have the hulls removed with a bath and I drain them very well in a strainer over a bowl before placing them back in the glass jar I sprout them in.

Sprouts and sprouted baby greens are full of fresh nutrition. You can’t get more local than your kitchen and you can easily find organic seeds online or in health food stores. My most recent purchase was from: www.wheatgrasskits.com and I also purchase organic seeds from www.sproutingseeds.com owned by the Mumm’s. There is a 3-minute video that shows how to grow jar sprouts. Easy, simple, and fresh!

Here is a recipe from my Johnny Alfalfa Sprout Handbook, available by clicking on MY BOOKS.

Sprout Slaw

Ingredients

1/2 small red cabbage, grated
1/2 small white cabbage, grated
2-3 org. carrots, scrubbed and grated (if not organic, peel)
2-3 sliced scallions
handful of sprouts, either jar sprouts or baby greens, cut small.
Your favorite coleslaw dressing or oil and lemon

Directions

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Toss with your favorite dressing. Add salt & pepper if you wish. Serve chilled.
Note: If you are using a mayonannise-based dressing, you might want to add the sprouts after you add the dressing so they don’t wilt.

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Personal Note: Tomorrow is the 11th anniversary of 9/11/01. It also happens to be the 21stbirthday of my grandson Max, so while I want to celebrate his 21st birthday, I also want to acknowledge this sad day. I won’t be posting anything on this day. Perhaps we can all take a few moments to remember the sadness of that day.

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