We have been enjoying the process (and taste!) of growing sprouts at our house. We are all amazed at how quickly changes happen with our plant babies, and my babies love to devour our tender greens. We have been growing 4 trays, and find that it just about gives us a week’s worth of yum until our next trays come on board. We’re still refining the process, as the peas grow faster at first, though the buckwheat catches up pretty quickly, and sunflowers lag behind. Next week I’ll try staggering their starts, but for now I’m still starting the soak at the same time.
I snapped a shot of all four of the trays that we showed the planting process so that you can see what they looked like when we took the covers off. In retrospect, I would have left the covers on the sunflower a little longer, as these sleepy sprouts took a long time to cast off their little black caps and come out to play in the sunshine. But even so, they managed nicely and are now ready for the table.
First up, we have the buckwheat.
You can see the yellowish color, no green since I’d just taken the lid off and they’d been in total darkness until now. You can also see the white fuzzy roots that are often mistaken for mold — I had read about this, so while I watched it carefully, I was not quick to give up on them, and as it turns out, the book was right! These are just the tiny hairs on the roots, and not some nasty fungus that doomed my little crop.
They greened up pretty quickly, but I didn’t snap a picture until a few days later, when most of them had cast off their seed hull of their own accord and peeked out over the sides of the tray.
I love the way this picture shows our buckwheat babies emerging from the sunlight in their sunny southern window. This reminds me of something I read once about plants, about eating plants is like eating sunlight. I still am agog at the fact that plants convert sunlight into tangible energy. Just think what we could do for our energy crisis if we could figure that one out! Anyway, what I’d come across was something to the effect of that: plants covert sunlight into plant matter, so by eating raw, unadulterated plants we are in a way eating sunlight. Now back to our regularly scheduled program…
The other two seeds we’d started that day were sunflower and peas — here they are the day I took the cover off:
Sunflowers on the left, probably could have used another day or so in the dark. Peas on the right have 2 inch or so shoots that are ready to green up. Lucia pointed out that the pea shoots grow up out of the pea, which stays on the soil surface. The buckwheat and sunflowers grow different, carrying their seed coats up with them until the shoot is strong enough to cast them off.
Here’s a shot of the pea shoots one day after the above pic — look how much greener and taller:
I haven’t captured a “final stage” pic of the sprouts yet, guess I’m too busy eating them! But you can get a sense of what the pea and sunflower sprouts look like in our dinner from last night. We’ve talked about incorporating more raw foods into your diet by just adding one meal a day (usually starting with breakfast, choosing a smoothie or fruit instead of bagel or cereal), then two, and then having more raw food as sides at dinner. Last night’s dinner is a good example of this. I was trying out some relatively new dishes, so I defrosted some lentil soup and heated that up, knowing that Dante and Lucia would at the very least eat that.
So I got out some collards, destemmed and cut them in half, and whipped up some tangy carrot salad, or a variation thereof. This has been a favorite recently — it’s quick to come together and can be made from stuff I usually have on hand, leaving out what I don’t and adding in what I do. I chop the nuts and leave them separate so that they aren’t soggy in the leftovers. I put these out as a little craft project at the dinner table — and Dante at a whole carrot-salad-filled collard wrap as part of his dinner. The first few times I made this salad, he ate a bite and said he didn’t like it. Granted, each time I’ve made it I’ve had different things on hand, but this time he ate it. So there’s something to be said for continuing to serve things and waiting for appreciation to come after many tries.
I’d made the cream sauce for the sprouts before I shredded the carrots in the food processor, and since Lucia wanted to try the sauce I gave her a bowl of carrot shreds with some sauce drizzled on it. I added an extra clove of garlic to the sauce (who’s surprised? anyone? anyone?) so it was packin some heat, but both she and her brother ended up eating a small bowl of this as part of their dinner.
And in addition to carrot wraps and lentil soup, I served a big bed of pea and sunflower sprouts with velvety smooth cream sauce. Oh my. It was delicious! Lucia at first asked for a bowl of plain sprouts, but after finishing her carrots, she asked for cream sauce on them as well. And in fact, I just drizzled some on since I knew she found the sauce to be spicy, and she demanded more — nearly double! I loved the texture and flavor of this dish, but we all agreed that we felt slightly rabbit-like, sucking a forkful of sprouts in as we chewed, so next time I will probably chop the sprouts up a bit before serving, or serve them with a knife so people can chop their own.
Can’t rave enough about the sprouts — and they’re soo kid-friendly too on many levels. Definitely consider giving them a try so that by next winter you’re comfortable with the process and are ready to have fresh, local greens all winter long!