Not Just Expensive Garnish

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and was presented with a beautifully garnished dish? It looked fabulous, but you weren’t quite sure what to do with those tiny little greens that weren’t parsley? Parsley has been the standby plate garnish that most people leave on the plate, despite its health benefits. Instead of parsley, we are now seeing microgreens pop up on our dish.

But what are microgreens? Microgreens are young vegetable greens high in nutrients like potassium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and copper; as well as polyphenols and antioxidants. They can pack up to 40 times the nutrient level of mature greens.

Microgreens are not sprouts. They are the small, immature version of a larger plant and the variety is immense. We use beet, arugula, borage, amaranth, red cabbage and so many more here at our restaurant. The picture you see is of two of the potted microgreens from our local, organic supplier. They are almost ready to be cut down and eaten.

I posted this picture on our board by the front door because we saw so many microgreens coming back on the plate – destined for the garbage. Let me tell you; they are not cheap. So we really hate seeing them thrown away. My staff wondered why no one eats them when they add so much taste to the dish. I said, it’s probably because they have no idea what they are. They probably think they are there for presentation purposes only. So my husband painted a wall with chalkboard paint and I decided to use it to help people understand what exactly we’re putting on their food.

The test now will be to watch the plates and see if diners’ curiosity is peaked, and they start trying the microgreens. I’m also hoping to spark conversation around nutrition (always); and how we are doing our part to bring better nutrition to our customers.

Microgreens are popping up all over the place, and you can even find them in grocery stores that carry a lot of organics and specialty produce. If you haven’t tried them, I suggest you grab a cabbage, arugula or amaranth to start out. Have you had microgreens? If so, which are your favorite?

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