Baby greens, microgreens make big impact

08/05/2003 12:00:00 AM
Teresa Vining

He also serves a mixture of bull’s blood, fennel, tat soi and red beet top microgreens in a cornucopia-shaped cone. To do this, he bakes a sliced haromaki shell (Vietnamese spring roll wrapper) rolled in the shape of a cone and coated with herbs and toasted pumpkin seeds. He places the microgreens in the cone, garnishes with popcorn shoots and serves it with balsamic truffle dressing.

Fabrice Hardel, executive chef at Le Fontainebleau in The Westgate Hotel, San Diego, still enjoys the novelty of microgreens “I recently came from Europe, and we don’t have them there. So when I arrived in the United States, I was amazed,” he says.

He offers a petite crab salad with microchervil and creamy asparagus soup on his menu, as well as Pacific salmon topped with an orange and rosemary dressing and served over wilted spinach with orange slices, carrots, stir-fried snap peas and a mixture of young greens.

Rick Tramonto, executive chef/partner at Chicago’s Tru restaurant, says he uses microgreens as garnish on almost everything. For one of his dishes he serves a mixture of bright red microgreens tossed in citrus vinaigrette on roasted sea bass with ginger carrot broth. He also serves hamachi, tartar and caviar with micromizuna and chervil.

Mod restaurant’s Walker especially enjoys using baby greens and microgreens in vegetable dishes. “If we are using the main vegetable, I think it is really awesome to use different aspects of that flavor and that vegetable in the same dish,” she says. For instance, she uses tiny carrot tops in a dish that includes carrots and microfennel as a garnish in an item that includes fennel.

When using baby and microgreens in salads, experiment with different oils, citrus juices and vinaigrettes to bring out new dimensions of the greens. Holmquist says he especially uses citrus juices to bring out the sheen and tries to stay away from heavy vinaigrettes. He suggests cautioning the staff against overdressing baby greens — a common mistake made by those unaccustomed to working with them.

FIND THE BALANCE

Count the cost when ordering and using baby and microgreens, says Holmquist with Stein Eriksen Lodge. Because the greens are specialty items, cost is a consideration, shipping can be expensive and they have a short shelf life. So it’s a balance, he says. “Try to order as little as possible to keep the shipping under control, but make sure you have the freshest quality and don’t run out,” he says. Suppliers are sensitive to this and usually will ship in small quantities.



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