Those tender baby microgreens used to garnish plates in fine dining restaurants aren't just for decoration. Instead of pushing them to the side, new research suggests tucking in after finding that some species of trendy seedlings pack a more powerful nutritional punch than mature plants.
Microgreens have become a trendy ingredient in the restaurant scene to add color, texture and flavor to dishes, sometimes as a garnish and other times as an ingredient. Seedlings of spinach, lettuce and red cabbage are usually 2.5 cm to 8 cm in height and are harvested within 14 days of germination.
Among the 25 microgreens analyzed, scientists found that the seedlings of red cabbage, cilantro, red garnet amaranth (a purple-hued plant) and green daikon radish had the highest concentrations of nutrients like ascorbic acids, carotenoids, phylloquinone or vitamin K, and tocopherols or vitamin E, all of which have antioxidant properties.
The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry August 29.
Red cabbage microgreens had the highest concentration of vitamin C, while green daikon radish microgreens were packed with the most vitamin E.
Meanwhile, to prepare microgreens at home, Epicurious takes inspiration from acclaimed restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, renowned for foraging its ingredients, with a recipe for microgreens with a curry vinaigrette.
Popular food blog Honest Cooking also suggests topping pizza with fresh microgreens for added texture, eating them as a salad, and adding them to sushi, wraps and sandwiches.