St. Patty’s Day has come and gone, but we’re still celebrating our green veggies here at Saucy. There are just so many great ones to choose from! Today I wanted to highlight another one that’s a little lesser known: Sunflower Sprouts. You can usually find these at your local farmer’s market or at a natural foods store. They can be a bit pricey, so I recommend shopping around for the best deal because once you try them, you’re gonna’ be hooked.
A sunflower sprout is just that — it’s the very first sprout of a sunflower from its seed. Once they get big enough, they are cut from the seed or pulled along with the seed. I don’t mind the seed casings in mine, but The Man does not like them in his. If you get a batch with seed casings, you can usually put them in a colander and kind of shake them free to separate them from the sprout itself.
The first question people usually ask me is, “What do they taste like?” The best description I have come up with is that they taste a bit carrot-like. They’re slightly sweet with a nice earthy flavor to back them up.
The next question I’m usually asked is how I cook them. My first response is that I often don’t! Because of their sweet carroty nature, they make a great raw snack. They have a smooth texture, so they’re good by themselves or added to a salad. Plus, eating them raw keeps them fresh and intact, helping you reap all of their nutritional rewards.
When Sunflower Sprouts are cooked, they behave similarly to spinach. You can have a massive pile and once it’s wilted down, you wonder where it all went! Bear that in mind when making my next favorite way to cook sprouts: a simple sauté with a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. It makes a great side or base for layering different flavors.
And then there’s stir fry. Throw all your favorite veggies in a sauté pan or wok, starting with those that take the longest to cook and then adding the quicker cooking items — like sprouts — at the end. My latest quick weeknight stir fry was super easy and consisted of just chicken, red peppers, scallions, mung bean sprouts, and sunflower sprouts. I made a sauce by mixing to taste oyster sauce, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, S&P, garlic, onion, and ginger powders, and olive oil.
Once you get the hang of cooking sprouts, you can also step out on a limb and get creative! I found some mini chicken wontons and created a Chicken Wonton Soup with zucchini and carrot noodles, sunflower spouts, and fresh parsley and ginger in chicken broth. It was pretty darn amazing.
Sunflower sprouts are just some of the out-of-the-box deliciousness that’s in season this Spring. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I encourage you to venture out to your fresh markets and try something different. You might just discover a new favorite!