I found myself scrapping the last specks of green off the plate, chasing the delicate little stems around with my fork. Not wanting to miss those evasive slender shoots, I coaxed them onto the tines with my fingers. The vibrant greens wove through the pale fluffy curls of quinoa and salty chunks of feta, their sharp grassy flavor contrasting with the mild-mannered nutty seed.
Surprisingly intense in flavor in an array of vibrant colors, microgreens are the smaller, younger version of salad greens and herbs. Arugula, basil, cilantro and spinach are just a few of the various varieties of microgreens. Harvested young when only a few weeks old, these young seedlings are intense in both color and flavor. Unlike sprouts which are simply germinated seeds. grown in water and eaten whole, microgreens are grown in soil and cut at the root.
Like sprouts, however, and similar to their mature, leafy green cousins, microgreens are a good source vitamins, minerals and other beneficial phytonutrients. These wonderfully tender miniature greens got their culinary start in California. Chefs and homecooks alike immediately took to the tiny greens. Capitalizing on their access to fresh local produce, these grassy, spicy, earthy flavors soon became a staple of California cuisine.
Despite their inherent liveliness, microgreens are rarely the star of the show. Rather, they play a strong supporting role; a humble jumble of greens as a garnish or a flavor accent, adding beauty and dimension to a dish. Pin It
That’s exactly what they do here; they tumble together with shreds of raw zucchini, mild, nutty quinoa, and creamy feta. The diminutive stems peak through, adding a light crunchy texture and bright clean flavor.
Fresh, nutty, creamy and satisfying, this is the kind of salad that highlights the best that Mother Nature has to offer.
RECIPE: zucchini quinoa salad with microgreens
- 500ml/ 2 cups water
- 180g/ 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well, drained
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 medium zucchini, trimmed and shredded in a food processor or grated on a box grater
- 50g/ ¼ cup black kalamata olives, finely chopped
- 112g/ 4 ounces feta cheese, cubed
- 30ml/ 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 60ml/ 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- A few handfuls of microgreens, washed and dried
- 30g/ ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Rinse the quinoa until the water runs clear and drain.
- Combine the drained quinoa with the 2 cups of water and salt in a heavy medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until done.
- Take saucepan off of heat and set aside for 5 minutes with the lid on to steam and dry out the quinoa. Pour out into a large bowl and let cool to room temperature.
- Add the shredded zucchini, chopped black olives and feta to the quinoa.
- Whisk together the white wine vinegar and olive oil and pour over reserving some to toss with the microgreens.
- Toss microgreens with the remaining dressing and top the quinoa. Sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds.
- Season with freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed depending on how salty your feta cheese is.
Everything can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge until ready. Toss the quinoa mixture and the microgreens with the dressing and top with the pumpkin seeds right before serving.
Preparation time: 30 minute(s)
Cooking time: 15 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
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Have you ever tried microgreens?