About five years ago, micro herbs graced our plates with their beautiful curly stems and pretty leaves, adding a burst of height, colour and texture to every dish from avocado toast to, erm… strawberry cheesecake. It wasn’t long before everyone was taking a big old pinch of the action, with micro herbs gracing every aspiring food stylist’s Instagram #brunch pic.
It’s perhaps easy to think of micro herbs as a passing fad or a thing fussy chefs do (remember the sprig of parsley adorning every 1980’s cookbook recipe and in-vogue restaurant?). But think again. Micro herbs have a unique, intense flavour that can add a new dimension to your dishes.
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What are micro herbs anyway?
Micro herbs (sometimes called micro greens) are basically the seedlings of plants that are usually harvested when they are more fully grown. Think: radishes or peas or coriander. Micro greens are grown just like any other plant but harvested just a week or so after they’ve grown their first leaves. As a result, all the flavour of the plant is concentrated into the smaller root.
Why are micro herbs more than just a garnish?
Because the flavour is more concentrated, micro herbs have a far more intense flavour than their size would suggest. So you don’t need to use much to add a huge burst of fresh, herbal vibrance to your dishes. Turns out they’re not just a pretty face after all.
How to use micro herbs
Micro herbs are a great way to jazz up all sorts of dishes, from fresh salads and sandwiches to days’ old soup or a frozen stew. Here are a few ways to get micro herbs on your shopping list and into your dishes in the most delicious way… thanks to a little help from Farmdrop’s trusty customers.
Here are 5 micro herbs to get you started…
These beautiful stringy greens have a sweet, chive-like flavour. Their jet black seeds burst with an oniony twang. Try adding garlic chives to quiches, omelettes, savoury tarts or potato salads. Or sprinkle them on top of poached fish, in a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel, or added to this silky, buttery Hollandaise sauce recipe for a wonderful kick without the intense punch of a regular garlic clove. Served up with rib eye and Parmesan chips, it’s the ultimate treat for two.
For something a little healthier, check out @theurbankitchen’s wild salmon salad with roasted aubergine, tomatoes and greens, all topped with micro garlic chives and homemade basil oil.
This perky herb comes with the zingy leaf and aromatic coriander seed attached, meaning it’s a real winner in Indian and Middle-Eastern spiced dishes. The seeds are slightly sweet so are wonderful eaten raw. Try serving them as a side salad to these turmeric-spiced cauliflower steaks. Or try them sprinkled on top of a healthy sweet potato and tomato daal for a burst of colour and spice. Thanks @thelondonmummy for the tip.
Pea shoots have that sweet, juicy flavour you get from a fresh, seasonal garden pea. The only difference is they’re available all year round. Try them in place of fresh peas, on pea and ham soup, in veggie pasta (thanks @_sboddah_) or chicken risotto.
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Or even better, add pea shoots to your fish and chips. Simply pull apart the crisp batter from the fish and sprinkle pea shoots straight onto the flaky white flesh. The added freshness is wonderful. Serve with a side of mushy peas for balance, of course!
These beautiful pink-stemmed greens have a slightly peppery kick, similar to radish and cress. They’re very versatile and are a great replacement to horseradish. Pair micro radish with roast beef, mackerel, egg mayo sarnies or Caesar salad. Basically, anything rich or creamy that can be cut through with a fresh peppery kick.
We love the sound of @thelondonglutton’s hake, creamy beet salad and micro radish.
These clever little shoots taste just like the delicate green tips of a broccoli head and might just be the best way to re-introduce this veg onto your child’s dinner plate. Add them to mac ‘n’ cheese, stir-fry them, or stir them through buttered peas and serve with roast beef.
Ever tried broccoli pesto? Blitz fresh micro broccoli with basil, garlic, Parmesan and pine nuts, then toss through pasta. A vibrant green pasta that makes for a tasty, quick mid-week supper.
What’s more, micro herbs can be super sustainable too.
Farmdrop’s micro greens aren’t imported from warmer climes. They’re actually grown right here in London’s network of disused underground tunnels, 33 metres below the streets of Clapham, thanks to Growing Underground.
Unlike traditionally farmed herbs, which are affected by the weather. Growing Underground grow their micro greens using hydroponic systems and LED technology. Their greens require 70% less water and absolutely no pesticides, so you get maximum flavour and a mouth-wateringly crisp texture.