As many of you know, there's something almost addictive about sprouting: Once most folks have grown one jar of the nutritious little shoots (and discovered how easy it is to produce salad greens for merely pennies per day), they've become hooked on the process. As a result, avid sprouters occasionally have problems trying to use up the energy-packed morsels ... which frequently seem to continue to expand even when safely stored in the refrigerator!
Well, if you've often thought there must be something to do with all that nourishment besides simply piling the sprouts in sandwiches, or sprinkling them on omelets, salads, and soups... take heart! With a little imagination, it's possible to incorporate the crunchy tidbits into every course of a meal from appetizer to dessert! So, to inspire your culinary inventiveness, we've put together a sample menu for a hearty, nutritious supper in which each dish is built around sprouts recipes that use a particular kind of sprouted seed or bean.
To kick off any dinner gathering, try these delicious, natural hors d'oeuvres: Simply mix together 1/2 cup of cream cheese with 1 cup each of sprouted wheat, chopped-up nuts, and raisins. Once the "dough" is soft and well blended, shape it into bite-sized spheres and roll each one in toasted wheat germ or sesame seeds. (Wheat balls are an excellent before-dinner snack, and are especially appetizing when served with rice crackers or raw vegetables and tofu dip.)
Cream of Soy Soup
Nothing can warm your insides on a freezing winter evening better than homemade soup ... and this recipe, which depends on the nutritious zing of fresh sprouts, can be whipped up in just a few minutes! First, put 3 cups of soybean sprouts and 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan and cook them over low heat for about 15 minutes or until the shoots are tender. Then force the cooked sprouts — with their broth — through a sieve, or whirl them in a blender until smooth. Next, warm 3 cups of milk — in the pan used to simmer the sprouts — and stir in the soybean puree. Add sea salt to taste, and the herbs of your choice. (You might want to try a little cayenne, oregano, or celery salt.) Serve the creamy soup steaming hot, topped with alfalfa sprouts.
The main dish for your "sprouted" dinner combines the crunchiness of fresh sprouts and raw nuts with the creamy texture of tahini (a paste made from roasted and ground sesame seeds). First, put 2 cups of water, 1/4 cup of unroasted cashews, 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, 1 tablespoon of whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon of fresh minced onion, and 1 teaspoon of sea salt into a blender. Process the mixture for 30 seconds, pour it into a small pan, and warm it over low heat until it thickens.
Then remove the sauce from the burner and add 3 tablespoons of tahini (or any nut butter), 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of chopped chives, and — this is the essential ingredient — 1 1/2 cups of alfalfa sprouts. Stir this combination well and reheat it ... but don't let it come to a boil. Finally, spoon the rarebit over thick slices of your own homemade whole wheat toast ( or a steamed green vegetable) and garnish each serving with pimento strips and sliced olives. (You won't even miss the cheese found in traditional rarebit recipes ... although you can add your favorite if you so desire.)
To make these quick biscuits, sift together 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Then melt 1/4 cup of butter, and — after it's cooled slightly — combine it (in another bowl) with 1 egg, 1 cup of milk, and 2 tablespoons of honey. Add 1 cup of alfalfa sprouts (chopped to about 1/8 inch long) to the milk mixture, and pour the resulting liquid into the dry ingredients. Stir the batter briefly — just long enough to moisten all the flour particles — and spoon it into well-greased muffin tins, filling each cup only about two-thirds full. Bake the treats (this recipe makes a dozen) in a 400*F oven for 25 minutes.
Even dessert can be a nutritious course when it contains sprouts! For a wholesome and tasty carrot cake, cream 3/4 cup of honey with 1/2 cup of butter, and — when the mixture is thoroughly blended — stir in 2 egg yolks, one at a time. (Put the whites aside for later use.) Next, beat in the grated rind of 1 orange, 3/4 cup of grated carrot, and 1/2 cup of roasted, finely chopped soy sprouts.
Then, in a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients: 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Pour 1/2 cup of milk into the dry mixture and stir the batter well. Finally, use a wire whisk to beat the separated egg whites until they stiffen into peaks (but aren't dry) ... and fold them into the batter. Pour the cake mix into a greased 9"-square pan or a 5" X 8" loaf pan, and bake it in a moderate (350°F) oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (If you'd like to "dress up" the dessert a little, you can frost it with an orange honey glaze.)
Believe it or not, you can even drink your sprouts, as in this unusual version of a traditional beverage. Two servings of Chia Maria require 2 cups of tomato juice, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 chopped hot green chili (which is optional), 1/2 cup of chia sprouts, a touch of Tabasco, a pinch of salt, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce (also optional). Simply mix the ingredients together for 30 seconds in a blender, and serve each drink with a sprig of parsley. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Chia seeds aren't sprouted in the conventional manner.]
As these recipes indicate, there are lots of ways to use sprouts other than the standard "throw a few in here or there" kitchen strategy. So if your counters are overflowing with jars and trays spilling out crunchy green shoots, do not throw away the surplus. Use your imagination ... and have a sprout dinner!
EDITOR'S NOTE: The recipes in this article have been adapted by permission from The Sprouter's Cookbook by Marjorie Page Blanchard, copyright© 1975 by Garden Way Publishing and The Complete Sprouting Cookbook by Karen Cross Whyte, copyright © 1973 by the Troubador Press.