It is only natural that California would pioneer the latest microgreen trend in the food world. These flavorful Lilliputian members of the greens community have been appearing with increasing frequency on today’s restaurant menus. They are appearing in upscale markets and restaurants and locally command a luxury item price of up to $3 to $5 per ounce. Many chefs in the Sacramento restaurant scene are now incorporating microgreens into a variety of dishes. One common microgreen that is being found on local menus in California restaurants is Bulls Blood. Read that twice when you see it on a menu and wonder to yourself; “really?”. Do you take it literally or have you already been exposed to one of the newest local farm trends to hit many restaurants menus?
Bulls Blood is a popular microgreen that stems from the 1840’s bulls blood beet. Bull’s blood leaves have been used in folk medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments. This Microgreen’s beet-like flavor and vivid red color enhances mixed green salads but also finding its way on top of raw meats, seafood and pork belly sandwiches!
Lycopene, the red pigment in beets, is not only found in the root vegetable, but also in the tiny “Bulls Blood Beet” microgreen harvested a mere two weeks after sowing. It’s the perfect little “health food”. Lycopene has been shown to reduce the risk of several types of cancer.
Those who sing the praises of micro-greens point to their nutritional benefits. Like sprouts, some types of young seedlings have remarkably high levels of vitamins, minerals and other health-giving phytochemicals. No more than 8 – 14 days old, these little seedlings have just developed their first set of leaves, or cotyledons for the plant biology minded. They are delicately harvested at a time when their nutritional compounds are highly concentrated.
Chefs look at their sometimes intense flavor or the color and texture that they offer as dish confetti, brightening up main dishes or salads. As a careful reading of trendy menus reveals, micro is huge: Microfennel, microarugula, micro-spinach, microchrysanthemums, and others appear as garnishes, as toppings, or as explosive bursts of flavor.
The greens provide a different dimensional look. Their impact resides in the realm of the senses: They are surprising, mind-bending, seductive. Asked why microgreens have attained such popularity? People are really attracted to their punchy splashes of flavor and their almost-evanescent beauty.