Olivia Dish

A Sprout to Love

In Local Flavor, Markets, South Carolina on December 5, 2009 at 12:36 pm
sunflower sprouts

Attempting to refocus: can any good come from sprouts?

I don’t like finding a pile of hairy alfalfa sprouts on a sandwich.

I’m okay with a few bean sprouts in a stir fry, I guess.

I’ve just never been a sprout person.

Last weekend, my friend Whit DeSpoon brought me a collection of items from the local farmers’ market.  He unpacked and presented–arugula, carrots, green bell peppers–pausing when he came to a small bag of green-leafed things.

“Sunflower sprouts, I don’t know about these,” he said, turning the zip lock bag over in his hand.  “Hmm.”

His little “hmm” said plenty to me: “Maybe I shouldn’t have brought these to you but what the heck. Try to keep an open mind but don’t get your hopes up. And please don’t go all persnickety on me, the way you do when they put raisins in your French toast.”

I didn’t get my hopes up. I did feel persnickety.  But I also felt obliged to give them a try. So later in the day, I pulled the bag out of my refrigerator to take a look.

The first thing that struck me was how cute they are.  Yes, cute.  Little stems are stopped with two oval leaves, the whole ensemble slightly bigger than a three-leafed clover.  But the leaves have substance, like something you might find on a succulent.

sunflower sprout salad

Sometimes I forget how good salad can be when it's fresh like this.

I looked around for advice on what to do with sunflower sprouts.  Most articles said to add them to salads, promising a nutty flavor.

So I assembled a salad for dinner—fresh arugula, thin sliced carrots and radishes, and an ample portion of sunflower sprouts.  I dressed the salad with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, added some sliced steak.

sunflower sprouts with steak

The steak was good, the sprouts even better.

Oh my.  It was on of the most flavor-filled salads I’ve ever had.  First, nothing is better than fresh, locally-raised produce.  And the sunflower sprouts took the salad to a new level; they were meaty, and yes, nutty in a raw peanut sort of way.  But the sprouts were more than that and try though I might, I don’t quite know how to describe the flavor.  Perhaps, all you can say is they taste like sunflower sprouts.

So on their own, they’re quite the thing.  But even better, I liked the way they softened the bite of the arugula, they way they stood up to the steak and balanced it.

I never thought I’d type these letters, but… I-c-r-a-v-e-s-p-r-o-u-t-s (well, just sunflower sprouts).  I can’t wait to get my hands on another passel of them. I went to the market this morning for more.  “They’re not here today,” Mr. DeSpoon said, when I asked who was selling them. (They were grown by City Roots, I learned later.)

I understand sunflower sprouts don’t last long in the refrigerator. Mr. DeSpoon tried to grow them once and said it wasn’t easy. But if we can’t find more soon, I may try soaking sunflower seeds in water and seeing what I can sprout myself.

  1. City Roots Sprouts are for sale at Rosewood Market!

  2. I discovered that a few weeks ago–and have since doubled my weekly sprout intake. Thanks for adding that tip!

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