July 1, 2014
What separates pro chefs from home cooks? It’s as much about supply as technique; in this case, year-round access to microgreens, those delicate sprouts used to garnish fish and add colour to salads.
With the Vancouver-born Urban Cultivator, growing your own is now an option for everyone. Tarren Wolfe developed its core hydroponic technology to grow medical marijuana (Arlene Dickenson of Dragon’s Den invested), then recognized another market. Raised in units the size of a wine fridge, these little workhorses can keep your plates garnished with delicious greens like sunflower shoots and micro watercress all year, even in our decidedly untropical climate. Plus, they pack a nutritional punch, with extra-high levels of vitamins C, E, and K.
Chef Ned Bell says he introduced a larger cultivator at Yew not only as a reliable source for fresh microgreens but as a way to keep costs in line: microgreens can come with macro price tags.
Green Goddess Dressing
From Ned Bell, Yew at the Four Seasons, 791 W. Georgia St., 604-692-4939
This dressing is great on any mixed greens or lettuces. It makes a delectable dip for vegetables and can be spread in wraps or sandwiches. Try it with a chilled potato salad, your favourite pasta salad, or cooked quinoa
1 medium-size ripe Haas avocado, peeled and pitted
115 g Urban Cultivator arugula
115 g Urban Cultivator basil
30 g chives
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, low-fat sour cream, or low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup honey
11/2 tbsp salt
11/2 tbsp cracked black pepper
Purée everything in a blender (a Vita-Mix, if you have one). Check for seasoning, and adjust with sea salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 4 cups and will last, covered in the fridge, for two weeks
Microgreens garnish seafood dishes like the curry-spiced albacore at Edible Canada Bistro (1596 Johnston St., 604-682-6681), brunch dishes such as “back bacon” eggs Benny at Heirloom Vegetarian (1509 W. 12th Ave., 604-733-2231), and daily specials at Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House (777 Thurlow St., 604-669-1940). Have fresh greens delivered to your door by Spud (604-215-7783) — around $6 for 65 densely nutritious grams