Grow Your Own Sprouts! (Then Make a Salad)

You’ve seen bean sprouts in the grocery store, in your wrap, or sprinkled on your pad thai, but have you tried making them on your own? You should! Not only is it more fresh/healthy, but it’s also a heck of a lot cheaper-and maybe even a little “cool” these days (“Oh these? They’re just some live, edible plants I grew in my kitchen…

But aside from all that, the process of making sprouts is also super easy, and basically boils down to this: soak some beans, leave them in a damp towel for a couple days, eat. It’s like creating own vegetable garden, only without the dirt, and with an instant return on investment. And I’d say that’s pretty great.

Still need convincing? Then consider these facts:

  • Sprouts can be made from a wide variety of seeds, pulses, grains, nuts and beans, and every “sprout” is its own whole, germinated plant… that you can eat. Instead of just the leaves, or just the root, or just the fruit, you’re getting the whole shebang.
  • Better yet, as a result of all the energy sprouts expend growing, their calorie count is much lower than the un-sprouted version of themselves. For example, a cup of whole mung beans (cooked) has about 210 calories; a cup of sprouted mung beans has about 30 calories.
  • But just because the sprouts shed calories growing, doesn’t mean all their nutrients go out the window too. In fact, in the process of sprouting, their vitamin, mineral and protein content increase substantially. They’re especially high in vitamins A and C, folic acid, potassium, and fiber.
  • Sprouts are totally cost-effective, especially if you can buy your beans in bulk, or there’s an Indian or Asian grocer in your area. For a couple bucks, you can get a large bag of lentils or beans, and 1 cup of the dried beans will yield 3-4 cups of sprouts. I will be focusing on sprouting mung beans in this post since they’re some the easiest and tastiest to sprout, but I also love sprouting black chickpeas (or kala chana), adzuki beans, and red lentils (or masoor).
  • Sprouts are fun to grow. The whole process only takes 2-3 days, so it’s fun for kids, too. (For a list of all the foods that can sprouted, check out this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edible_sprouts)
  • Last but not least, sprouts are DELICIOUS. You can eat them raw, on sandwiches, salads, or on their own. You can lightly sauté them with a little salt and eat them like popcorn. You can add them to soup, veggie burgers, or any grain salad you like. They are incredibly versatile.

I started making sprouts a few years ago, after seeing them in a few different types of Indian dishes (my boyfriend is from India, so it is very often our cuisine of choice). In India, sprouts appear in all sorts of preparations: ground alongside onion and spices and made into a savory pancake; served as a snack or salad with raw red onion, cilantro, and spices; sautéed with other vegetables, such as green beans, and sprinkled with grated coconut; and in curries and soups, often with potato or another starchy vegetable.

There are many other preparations as well, but for this post, I’d like to share with you my go-to Indian-inspired sprout salad recipe. I have been making it for years and it’s always a hit at get-togethers… even with people who never ate a sprout in their lives, or “don’t really like salad,” or “don’t really like Indian food.” It’s refreshing, versatile, and perfect for summer.

Before we get to the recipe, though, here is the play-by-play on how to sprout mung beans:

Step 1: Buy some mung beans from the store (I got mine from the bulk section at Whole Foods) and measure out one cup. Depending on where you buy them, they may be called mung, moong, or green gram.

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Step 2: Put the beans in a bowl and cover them with water. The water should come up a couple inches over the beans, as they’ll be taking a big sip. :) Leave the beans overnight to soak.

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Step 3: The next day, drain and rinse the beans. Line a colander with a cheesecloth, double-thickness. Do not use a cotton cloth, or the sprouts will grow through the fibers and you won’t be able to get them out. Put the beans in the colander, and run the whole thing under water to dampen both the beans and the cloth. Fold the sides of the cloth up over the top of the colander and the beans (like a little bundle) and place the colander over a bowl. Leave for a day. Moisten the cloth/beans one or two times if the beans seem dry. (Note: I usually just leave the bowl on the counter, but if you put them in a dark place, like your stove, you’ll end up with whiter sprouts, like they ones in the store.)

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Step 4: Check on your beans. They should be sprouting or at least getting ready to. Give them some water and move them around a little. Leave for another day (or two if they’re really stubborn), watering as needed.

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Step 5: Your sprouts should be ready! Enjoy them however you please or try out my favorite sprout salad recipe. Just be sure to use the sprouts within a day or two.

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Crowd-Pleasing Sprout Salad

Note: This make a HUGE amount of salad (I can get at least a week’s worth of lunches out of it), so be prepared to share!

Ingredients

3-4 cups of sprouts (I ended up getting 5 cups out of my batch, and used them all)

4 ears of corn, shucked, with kernels removed

4 roma tomatoes, diced (I discard the juicy center so the salad doesn’t get too wet)

1 red onion, diced

1 ripe mango, diced

¾ cup chopped cilantro

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the corn kernels and boil for approximately three minutes. After three minutes, drop in the sprouts and boil for one minute more. You’re only boiling the sprouts to lessen their “raw” taste; don’t cook them for more than a minute or they’ll turn to mush! If some of the skins of the sprouts rise to the top, you can discard them (or keep them if you like).

Drain the corn and sprouts and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients, except the mango (it mushes easily, so I find it’s best to add it at the very end). Once the corn and sprouts have cooled, add them to the bowl and mix to combine. Add the mango and you’re done!

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You can enjoy the salad slightly warm or chilled, it’s up to you. One of my favorite ways to have it is over brown rice and topped with a fried egg-complete balanced nutrition in one bowl. It’s also great as a wrap or sandwich filler.

Final note: This salad is infinitely versatile: swap out any ingredient you don’t have or like, or sub or add in any other vegetable you please-baby carrots, radishes, tiny broccoli pieces, cooked potato cubes, you name it.

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One Response to “Grow Your Own Sprouts! (Then Make a Salad)”

  1. Rochelle says:

    My bulk mung beans are soaking on my countertop as I type — I can’t wait. I may end up trying them as a counterpoint for sauteed red Swiss chard and sea salt. Simple, crunchy, salty.

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