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5 Most Popular Microgreens for Chefs | Easily Make Your Dishes Gourmet

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5 Most Popular Microgreens for Chefs | Easily Make Your Dishes Gourmet

Microgreens might seem like the hottest and newest culinary buzzword, but seasoned chefs have been using these power-packed greens as an ingredient in fine dining restaurants for decades.

Providing a hearty dose of powerful nutrients, pops of color, and subtle (and sometimes robust) flavors, microgreens belong everywhere - in restaurants and homes alike. 

With so many different microgreens on the market - from broccoli microgreens to cilantro microgreens - it can be hard to know where to start when considering using them.

But, to help guide us, we can learn from the best by checking out the most popular microgreens for chefs.

Firstly, let’s have a look at what microgreens actually are.  

What are Microgreens?

Microgreens are the younger, sprout-like versions of certain vegetables and herbs - many of which are likely to be familiar to the average household with easily recognizable names such as: Broccoli, Arugula, Basil, Swiss chard, Beets, Mustard, and many more.

In fact, there are more than 60 different variations of microgreens!

These delectable, edible greens are harvested at their very early stages of growth, typically just after their first true leaves have developed. This is usually about 2-3 weeks from the time of having first been planted and nurtured.

At this point, they have reached their ideal harvesting age – having enough green leaf to be of some substance, without compromising the optimal nutrient density of the plant. The microgreens are then carefully cut just above the soil level.

Ensuring a sensitive touch in this process is key as these little green morsels are as delicate as it comes!

Amaranth Microgreens

Even though they’re small, microgreens have been shown to be much more nutritious than their full-grown counterparts. An true example of quality over quantity.

Studies have shown microgreens to have 6x- 40x the nutrient density of their mature counterpart!

In other words, they have very high levels of minerals, vitamins, and other micronutrients that are valuable for human health and well-being. Most microgreens are rich in magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, and potassium.

After being harvested, the delicate greens are washed and prepared for use in various dishes. Chefs and home cooks appreciate microgreens for their concentrated (yet subtle) flavor profiles and their appealing and tender appearance.

They are often used as garnishes to finish off a dish – just adding that little bit of “je ne sais quoi” (insert chef’s kiss fingers) to a dish.

Pea Shoots

All-in-all, microgreens are a great addition to any diet or lifestyle; particularly now with the option to purchase them from your local health food store, local grocer, farmers market or online platforms such as ours here at Etum Organics.

This convenient access to a wide array of microgreens helps you to save time, energy and effort.

However, if you do find yourself growing your own microgreens at home, here are some quick recommendations on our preferred equipment

10" x 20" Microgreen Grow Trays <-    Bootstrap Farmer    -> Link to our review

Certified Organic (non-organic is also available) Seeds <-    True Leaf Market

Harvesting Scissors <-    Amazon

Organic Soil Mix <-    Amazon

Grow Lights <-    Bootstrap Farmer

Feel free to reach out to us on our contact page for specific questions related to any of our recommended supplies.

In summary, here are four main reasons why homemakers and chefs alike use and love microgreens:

1) Their beautiful and elegant appearance: which helps to uplift and lighten up any dish with which it is served.

2) Their nutrient density: adding a real injection of necessary micronutrients in a small ‘package’.

3) Their delightful texture and mouth-feel: adding textural variance to each meal they are apart of.

4) Year-round availability: whether its Winter or Summer, you can grow microgreens indoors, making them a dependable and consistent addition to menus around the world - another strong reason why chefs in particular love microgreens.

Use in the Kitchen

Even though there are many varieties of microgreens that each offer their own unique splendor to a dish - there are several varieties that are consistently revered by chefs around the world for their versatility and the complementary nature of their flavor profile.

Let's go over some of the most popular microgreens in professional kitchens:

Most Popular Microgreens for Chefs

Broccoli Microgreens
Broccoli Microgreens

Broccoli Microgreens grow tall and dense, with white stalks and medium-sized dark green leaves.

Broccoli microgreens are highly favored due to their mild, satisfying flavor and neutral aroma. They’re almost like lettuce, but provide an undertone of peppery broccoli flavor along with a great mouth-feel.

The small green leaves of the broccoli microgreens are a bit more substantial than some other microgreens varieties and can therefore be a great addition to meals that call for a fist full of nutritious microgreens.

Cilantro Microgreens
Cilantro Microgreens

Cilantro microgreens offer up a gentle kick but are predominantly mild and cooling.

Chefs love cilantro microgreens as they add soft notes of citrus, with a lemony-lime brightness that gives a fresh tone to any plate. They are especially great as a garnish on scrambled eggs, curries or any potato-based dish.

They can also be mixed into a salad or included in fresh salsa as an accompaniment to a dish that needs some lightening up – they work wonders in this capacity because they do still maintain a subtle cilantro flavor which adds a herbaceous undertone to any dish.

Pea Shoots and Pea Tendrils

Pea shoots rank among the most popular microgreens for chefs due to their delicate and dainty appearance and subtle flavor.

Not only are chefs consistently awed by the beauty and playful presence of pea shoots, but chefs also appreciate that pea shoots are affordable, making them an easy addition to any dish.

They’re also full of folic acid and antioxidants, as well as vitamins A and C. 

These nutritious microgreens have a crisp texture and slightly sweet, pea-tinted flavor, so they work great in a fresh salad or paired with seafood.

While they are served best when raw for optimal nutritional value, they do also work wonders in a light fry up taking the place of some other green vegetable like swiss chard or kale.

Daikon Radish Microgreens

When a chef is looking to add a spicy flavor without actually adding spice or chili, they turn to radish microgreens.

Coming in a variety of colors, these microgreens grow dense and have large leaves with thick stalks.

They’re an excellent addition to Asian cuisine, especially sushi, as they support the radish flavor present in the horseradish/wasabi that is served when eating sushi. However, the bonus here is that you get all that punchy flavor via a soft green vessel instead of the hard, somewhat challenging vegetable counterpart.

These little radish-like leaves help to cut through any richness or density in a plate of food – offering a clarity of flavor (through the contrast that it offers to the main dish) and a sharp note that creates a felt sense of balance.

Arugula Microgreens

Arugula microgreens are similar to broccoli microgreens in that they offer a peppery flavor - but these are much more intense.

They make the list of most popular microgreens for chefs due to their citrus-pepper flavor combination and lightweight green leaves. They add the perfect zesty, nutty, peppery punch to any dish that needs a bit of sprucing up.

Arugula microgreens have a strong resemblance in flavor to their mature leaf, however the intricate and smaller leaf structure of the microgreen makes their peppery hum more palatable and better distributed throughout each bite.

The balancing bitterness that is offered by arugula is a wonderful addition to add substance of both texture and flavor to a dish. For example, if paired with a caramelized beetroot and roasted pumpkin salad with crumbled feta and roasted pumpkin seeds topped with a mustard vinaigrette, the arugula would offer a much needed savory, bitter hue that would round out the meal (as well as offer a fresh element).

Basil Microgreens

Basil microgreens have a fantastic sharp basil flavor while providing delicate, yet intense, aromatic support to any dish.

As a microgreen, Basil (depending on the variety you have) has a slightly sweet flavor, followed by intense notes of basil.

It is a common top choice for chef when garnishing Italian dishes, soups, salads, and even desserts like ice creams and sorbets that have a modern flare.

Amaranth Microgreens
Arugula / Red Amaranth Microgreens

The Amaranth microgreen has a mild and slightly earthy taste and is most often chosen by chefs for its attractive appearance and versatility as a garnish for an array of dishes.

The appearance of this microgreen is quite something to behold! Offering a gorgeous mahogany, purple and pink color palette that adds a tangible exuberance and youthful companionship to a dish. 

Fun fact: when the stalks of these microgreens are cut, they "bleed" red pigment - similar to the nature of beets in how they can leave heavy red stains.

Chefs Preferences & Microgreen Versatility

The microgreen crops mentioned here rank amongst the most popular microgreens for chefs for good reason - though the aforementioned microgreens are just a small selection of the wider varieties available.

Chefs may have their own preferences based on their culinary styles and creative expression.

Here are a few varieties that didn't make the list but deserve an honorable mention:

The extensive versatility of microgreens enable chefs to experiment and create exquisite food-related art while imparting bold and fresh flavors to their culinary delights.

As the popularity of microgreens continues to grow, they remain an indispensable ingredient in the toolkit of professional chefs; enhancing the dining experience and surprising diners with their addition of fun and grace in equal measure.

In conclusion, it’s our strong belief here at Etum Organics, that microgreens are, simply put, timeless.

Their natural ability to enhance any plate of food with minimal effort or adulteration is inspiring.

They really do offer it all: flavor, texture, appearance, mouth-feel, elegance - an entire nutritional package.

It is safe to say, that with the numerous benefits offered by these little nutrient dense greens have surely earned their place in the high rankings of restaurant world.


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