One of the least expected but fun outcomes of my husband doing the Soil for Life organic gardening course was discovering sprouts and that many vegetable tops are also edible. Actually I have been a lonely tester of various plant-parts for years, lonely because my family refused to join my journeys of vegetable experimentation. When Chris returned, from the Soil for Life course, excited by the opportunities that a new look at vegetables offered, our journey into eating different types and parts of vegetables really began. Not only have we started experimenting by stir-frying the leaves we used to feed to the compost heap, but we also pick baby vegetable leaves and a range of flowers for salads.
Sprouts are another delicious discovery. Sprouting edible seeds in a bottle or sprouter is a well known and successful way of adding your own fresh `greens’ to salads, stir-fries, omelets etc. Have you ever sprouted seeds in a shallow dish of soil on the windowsill? Try sunflower seeds! They are cheap and make tall, juicy sunflower sprouts. You can do the same with coriander, cress, lentils – and probably many more – it is worth experimenting.
If you don’t have the time or space for a traditional vegetable garden, you can have amazing success and add home-grown organic greens to your diet with simple window-sill ideas.
Next time you buy turnips, beetroots, radishes and carrots, cut away the crown, about 1 cm from the top. Eat the roots, cooked or raw. Put the crowns in a shallow tray with water (or plant them in composted soil) with the tops showing. Place in a sunny spot and water. Within a week, the first new growth will start to show. Pick the leaves when they are still small, about 10cm long, and use them in salads where they look great and are delicious or sautéed like spinach. Young carrot tops taste like a cross between coriander and parsley and make an unusual addition to your food.