Sprouting magically transforms dried, dormant legumes and seeds into fresh, crunchy, delicious vegetables. It can be done indoors and takes up very little space, which is wonderful for people in apartments, small kitchens, or without gardens. Sprouting also improves protein content, unlocks extra nutritional benefits like vitamin c and antioxidants, and can be easier on digestion. The University of Maryland recently found that these sassy seedlings contain up to 40 times more nutrients than adult vegetables! In this post, I’ll share my favorite ways to use sprouts and microgreens in your cooking.
What’s the Difference between Sprouts & Microgreens?
The distinction isn’t that important, but generally microgreens are baby plants, which are clipped and eaten fresh. They can be grown in water (like with the Hamama growing system) or in dirt. Sprouts are usually made in a jar, and while the same seeds can produce microgreens or sprouts, sprouts are eaten earlier in their germination, just after they’ve sprouted tails.
How to Make Your Own Bean Sprouts
You can sprout in any container (as evidenced by my pint glass sprouts below) but I looove my sprouting jars. The best jars and lids I’ve tried come from the geniuses at masontops. These brilliantly designed lids have a super handy pouring spout in the center for rinsing and feet to stand them upside down on a plate to drain (which prevents mold). Their complete sprouting kit is what I use, including their wonderful seed mixes (pictured below). You can find them on Amazon here. For my detailed tutorial on sprouting lentils and other legumes in jars, check out this post.
How to Grow Your Own Microgreens
Growing microgreens on your windowsill brings lovely, green, plant energy into your kitchen and home. Check out my tutorial here for how to grow your own microgreens at home. You don’t need anything fancy, you can use cafeteria trays, baking dishes, or even an old sheet pan! Also be sure to check out the brilliant Hamama growing system, which I’ve used and loved for years!
10 Delicious Ways to Use Sprouts & Microgreens
1. In Buddha Bowls!
If you know me at all or have followed me for any length of time, this one should come as no surprise to you. Sprinkle some freshly clipped greens onto your buddha bowls for instant fancy points. Here’s my template for how to create a buddha bowl.
2. Atop Crackers w/ Hummus & Veggies
One of my favorite uses of sprouts! For an easy and delicious hummus recipe check out this one, or how about some baba ganoush or caramelized onion and eggplant dip? All of these spreads pair perfectly with a little fresh green sprouty crunch.
3. Stuffed into Sandwiches
Smaller sprouts like alfalfa, radish, and broccoli add delightful fresh crunch to sandwiches. I especially love them on soft grain bread with my favorite chickpea and sunflower “tuna.”
4. Sprinkled on Salads
Obviously, a sprinkle of fresh microgreens is never unwelcome in a scrumptious salad! When you’ve got a microgreen tray or sprout jar going constantly, it’s easy and yummy to garnish your salads with a little extra sprouty flair.
5. In Spring Rolls
Sprouts and microgreens are perfect for adding delicious, fresh crunch to spring rolls. Pair them with some easy peanut sauce for a gourmet-feeling easy appetizer. (Or just eat a ton of them and call it a meal… that’s what I do)
6. On Fancy Toast
I’m a huge fan of toast, whether it’s sexy toast on actual bread, or sweet potato toast for a flourless alternative. Try topping your toast with mashed avocado, radishes, and sprouts, or hummus, cucumbers and sprouts for a fancy-feeling, easy and savory breakfast.
7. Rolled into Sushi
Uplevel your sushi rolls or sushi bowls with a few sprouts, especially spicy ones like radish. The photo and recipe below come from the wonderful blog Simple Veganista. Next time you’re making sushi, don’t forget the sprouts.
8. Sautéed or Stir Fried
One of my very favorite things to do with pea shoots is simply to toss them in a skillet with a splash of olive oil and lemon juice for 1-2 minutes. This wilts them and creates just the most lovely, bright, crunchy, simple side of greens that I can’t get enough of in the springtime.
They are also delicious tossed into any stir fry. They are nutty, crunchy, and don’t take long to cook – just a few minutes at the most. I add them in at the end of a stir fry or skillet-type meal just to wilt them, similar to how you’d cook spinach. Check out my basic stir fry tutorial here.
9. Thrown into Smoothies
Add a nutrition boost to your smoothies by tossing in some microgreens! I like to clip the tops for stir fries and salads and use the bottom parts of the stems for smoothies. I recommend first blending the greens with your smoothie liquid before adding the frozen fruit, so that your fibrous greens get fully blended and you don’t get crunchy bits in your smoothie. They give a smoothie an earthy quality, so if you like green smoothies you’ll like it. I recommend including banana for sweetness and a spoonful of almond butter to balance the flavors.
10. Made into Pesto
Do you love to sprout? What do you like to sprout and how do you use them? Share in the comments below!