Chefs in fine restaurants are always looking for the latest food craze to give them a leg up on their competition. Now from California comes the next trend: "microgreens."
Think of microgreens as living sprouts. They're older than sprouts, yet younger than the popular baby greens. Microgreens are tender, young greens harvested when they are less than 2 weeks old. They are being served in fine restaurants as flavorings in various recipes and as special garnishes. These greens may include up to 20 different varieties, such as the traditional arugula, basil, kale, and beets, along with the unusual buckwheat, lemongrass, and popcorn.
Since they're so young, microgreens are often sold to restaurants in flats grown in sterilized soil. The 5- to 6-inch, plastic trays sell for $12 to $26 each. Chefs shear the greens as needed. The flavor and nutritional content are reportedly higher than those of sprouts. Chefs claim the flavor is even more intense than fully-grown plants. The only downside is they're very perishable.
For more information on the microgreens trend, go to Via Magazine (www.viamagazine.com/top_stories/articles/microgreens02.asp).