Just about everything has a sprout stage. In plants it’s that early part of life when the first two miniature leaves make their move from folded-in-prayer to discernible plants. The preceding phase, when that translucent not-yet-quite-stem pushes its way out of the ground, is called a soak. Frequently at its initial appearance, that soak is still wearing the shell of its seed as a jaunty cap. When the sprout reaches the maturity of a toddler, it becomes a shoot. Wouldn’t it be great fun to be the person who decides what each of these things is called?
The first time I saw sprouts for sale they had been cut some indefinable time ago and were encased in refrigerated plastic containers. They were different. They were good. Today one can find trays of yet uncut sprouts of many varieties at our own farmers’ market. It doesn’t get fresher than seeing them cut before your eyes. One of the interesting things about sprouts is that, like DNA, every cell contains the imprint of the entire originating body. Which also means that all the nutrients and benefits of the mature plant are found in the sprouts.
As with Mother Nature, it is best not to fool with sprouts overly much. So instead of recipes, below is a list of ideas for how to use these intense little powerhouses of flavor and nourishment. Be prepared to be surprised.