Farmers Market Challenge: Microgreens – Small Size, Big Flavour

Part two in our continuing series!

Not sure what this is about? Check out the intro to our series for info.

“Daddy, why are you putting dead flowers onto mommy’s salad???”

Oh child, those aren’t dead flowers, nope, those are microgreens, and you better be liking them because they’re a new must-have staple in our market-buying groceries. (Note: Microgreens do not look like dead flowers; this was the observation of a three-year-old.)

When I walked past the Nutrigreens tent at last week’s market, I looked at my list and sure enough microgreens were there, but only on the maybe side. That meant that only after we got our necessities for the week purchased could we splurge on the maybes.

We are working with a budget after all; we’ve got to stick to the plan.

160712marketlist
The list of definites and maybes.

The maybes are things we don’t necessarily need but that may intrigue us, something we have yet to try, something that may only benefit one of us, not all three, or something that’s more a treat than a necessity.

Microgreens are like the premies of baby greens, seedlings loaded with mega nutrients. I’d seen them at the market before, but had never tried them. At $5 for a 300-gram container, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to commit; I thought I could find better value in veggies elsewhere.

But I got to chatting with the vendor, he told me if I got the plastic container instead of a bag, he could stuff more in there, and if I relocated them to a tupperware container at home with a damp cloth (I used paper towel) on both the bottom and top of the container they’d stay fresh – lasting up to 12-14 days without going bad.

He handed me a flower.

Market goers, I know you already know this, but for those of you new to market buying, this is a thing – we eat the produce before we buy.

Sampling: it’s a brilliant selling feature!
Sampling: it’s a brilliant selling feature!

The flavour that bursted in my mouth with that tiny sample, it was something I don’t think I’ve ever tasted in my greens before. So loud and prominent, like a kid jumping around in my mouth shouting “Look at me! Look at me!” Even my husband, who is a bit more reserved with his salad explorations, was wowed by the flavour kick – putting it atop our salads and into his tuna sandwiches for an added twist.

However, based on the amount we liked them, there’s no way they were going to last 12 days; by week’s end, there’s was enough for maybe two salads left.

This week’s loot:

  • Aged havarti cheese: $11
  • Half dozen eggs: $3
  • Microgreens: $5
  • Head of red spiky leafed lettuce: $3
  • 2 yellow zucchinis: $1.50
  • 1 red cabbage: $2.80
  • Bunch of green onions: $2.50
  • 1 lb fava beans: $3.00
  • 4 carrots: $3.50
  • Cluster of rainbow chard: $3.00
  • 1 giant cookie: $2.00
The loot bag: veggies, eggs, cheese, oh my!
The loot bag: veggies, eggs, cheese, oh my!

Just like last week, we had a plan, but unfortunately a few things needed to be altered on the fly. When we’d heard Vale Farms was coming to town, we’d hoped to acquire lamb, but discovered lamb wouldn’t be available until September. A quick brainstorming session had us purchasing a half dozen eggs and the award-winning aged havarti from Golden Ears Cheese for a quiche-inspired market meal.

Market Meal ingredients: Quiche = 4 eggs, 2-cups cheese, ~3/4 cup green onions, ~1 cup rainbow chard; Salad = red lettuce, red cabbage, ruby streaks mustard greens from 2 markets ago, microgreens, green onions, scapes from 3-4 markets ago, and broccoli from 2 markets ago
Market Meal ingredients: Quiche = 4 eggs, 2-cups cheese, ~3/4 cup green onions, ~1 cup rainbow chard; Salad = red lettuce, red cabbage, ruby streaks mustard greens from 2 markets ago, microgreens, green onions, scapes from 3-4 markets ago, and broccoli from 2 markets ago

A huge thumbs up from all three of us!

Carrots were on the necessity side this week. I wanted to compare between the bulk bags of carrots we usually get and the freshly pulled from the ground carrots offered at the market. As suspected, the market carrots did not disappoint. As soon as I took that first bite, it was a throwback to my childhood years growing up on the family farm, which after 30 years was sold last year. It’s a taste you don’t get in bulk: not just crunchy, but earthy and moist too.

Unfortunately, though, at $3.50 for a bunch of four, though bulky, the flavour was not enough to justify the expense.

Carrots are the easy, go-to vegetable for both my son and I. I, alone, eat at least two, sometimes three or more a day. Four carrots barely gets us through a day, let alone a week.

Sadly, the carrots will be more of a treat than a staple.

Tally for the week:

  • 4 full-plate lunch salads
  • 2 lunch side salads
  • 7 dinner 1/2 plate salads
  • 2 dinners with grilled zucchini and green beans
  • 1 breakfast smoothie (with greens)
  • 3 microgreen-infused tuna sandwiches
  • 1 dinner with sautéd green beans (from last week’s loot)
  • 1 dinner with quiche (plus 2 servings left over)
  • 2 snacks of carrots
  • 1 dessert cookie split between two happy boys

With the weather being somewhat crummy this week, we ate more dinner salads and stove-prepared meals than grilled vegetables, which meant that by Monday, we were running low on our greens, and still had quite a bit of zucchini left. I was able to off-set the greens with a small harvest of arugula and spinach from our patio pallet garden. We still have green beans left over from last week, and scapes from three markets ago that still look and taste fantastic. In fact, I think they’re getting even more garlicy with time.

Salads: I’ve always had mad salad-making skill, but these days, they’re becoming more and more Picasso-esque in both beauty and flavour!
Salads: I’ve always had mad salad-making skill, but these days, they’re becoming more and more Picasso-esque in both beauty and flavour!

This week we went 30 cents over budget. After all the necessities and a couple maybes were purchased, we had $1.70 remaining. My husband’s eyes drifted to the Artisan Bakery stand.

“Surely, we could splurge,” he suggested. “It could be a treat,” he offered.

After all, farmers’ markets aren’t just about the veggies, you know!

Katie Bartel

Katie is a former journalist and student, and is a type 1 insulin-dependent diabetic into running 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, and marathons. She blogs about her experiences at Princess of Pavement.

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