Produce spotlight: Microgreens

Farmers' markets are the perfect place to try new foods and for several reasons. First, they give growers, bakers, and artisans the opportunity to sell interesting, uncommon foods that might not sell as well in large grocery stores. Second, they allow customers to ask questions about the products -- how they're grown, where they're from, and how best to prepare them. (Many stands also offer samples and recipes!) Third, that direct interaction with customers gives sellers immediate feedback, allowing them to customize their offerings from week to week, focusing on what customers request instead of what supermarkets (often unrealistically) demand.

A couple Saturdays ago at Chapel Hill Farmers' Market (By the way, how did I get so lucky to have a biweekly market directly across the street from me?!), I bought a box of microgreens from Open Door Farm's stand. They looked a little like alfalfa sprouts, and I was drawn to their delicate, tangled stalks in hues of eggplant, mustard, ivory, and ruby. According to Open Door's website, "microgreens are basically the harvested seedlings of vegetable and herb plants," but unlike sprouts, they are grown in soil. Open Door Farm offered a few different mixes of microgreens, but I went with the rainbow mix, a combination of arugula, amaranth, beets, broccoli, cabbage, chard, collards, kale, and kohlrabi. What a variety! 

After some online research, I found a few ways to use the rainbow microgreens in my own kitchen and took photos of the results throughout that week.

Here, colorful microgreens garnish a bowl of black bean soup sprinkled with crushed tortilla chips and drizzled with chipotle sour cream.

They added a crunchy layer in a sandwich wrap filled with sliced apples, cheddar cheese, and whole-grain mustard.

Microgreens gave an extra flavor accent in my favorite brunch sandwich (inspired by Lititz, PA's Tomato Pie): melted brie, scrambled egg, and raspberry jam on toasted sunflower bread!

Microgreens don't stand up well to heat, so they're best used in cold dishes, as finishing garnishes, or in the very last step of cooking. I'd buy them again to add to salads, throw in stir fries, or maybe even try in a smoothie. 

What will you try at the farmers' market this week?