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The other thing everybody talks about in January, I mean, besides resolutions and, well, this year in mainland America, the pipes-freezing cold that stretches all the way from the Upper Pennisula to our version of it here in Tennessee, is sickness.
Everybody’s sick. Or if you aren’t sick, you’re getting over being sick or trying desperately not to get sick, and so, in the name of boosting immunity for you, you, and all of us, maybe it’s time to talk about sprouts? I love sprouts. I mean, I looooove sprouts.
Sprouts are fresh and crunchy and weirdly easy to learn to enjoy, even if the first time you ever ate them was when you were, oh, in your late 20s. They run a little pricey in the produce section (although you could always grow your own), so buying a container of them at the store feels like a luxury, sort of like buying a cherry chocolate bar, but in a tossup between the two, while of course I’d choose the chocolate, the sprouts would come very close (what? I know.).
Also, to be fair, the sprouts last a while; sometimes I’ve said to Tim, “They keep coming and coming, like we’ve got an oil at the Widow of Zarephath’s situation on our hands!” He usually laughs because he’s kind like that.
Sprouts are super concentrated in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals, having been harvested in their young, sprouting stage of growth—In alfalfa sprouts, for example, you get Vitamin K (good for blood clotting!), Vitamin C (go immunity!), and, here’s an important one, phytoestrogens, which may reduce your risks for all kinds of diseases bigger than winter colds, such as heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis, according to Michael T. Murray, author of Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.
One of the big nutritional components that people are also always talking about with broccoli sprouts is the sulforaphane, which, I know, is another big word that doesn’t come up in regular conversation, but it’s worth knowing because it works against cancer, according to a study from John Hopkins.
Anecdotally, I can tell you sprouts are probably the #1 food in the entire world that I am guaranteed to feel an energy boost after eating. Mark it down, documented fact, Shanna Mallon, age 31: Sprouts make me feel good!
You can put sprouts in smoothies, you can put sprouts on sandwiches, you can pile them on a plate with a little salt and go to town (surprisingly delicious!). Also, as we did in this recipe, you can add them to a leafy green salad with a crazy, complex, tangy, spicy, sweet vinaigrette.
My brother-in-law said it was one of the best salads he’s had in a long time. Actually, he stopped eating, looked at us both across the table, and then said it was one of the best salads he’s had in a long time, with such authority and confidence, I laughed out loud. He was right, though. This is some salad.
Leafy Sprouts Salad with Sorghum Chili Vinaigrette
I’m not kidding when I say, one bite into this salad, Tim’s brother exclaimed something about how it was the best salad he’d had in a while (nor am I kidding about the fact that such an exclamation is really saying something when it comes from a salad lover like either of those two). Sweet and rich from the sorghum, deeply tangy from the balsamic, and just a little hot from the chili powder, smoked paprika, and cayenne, this salad’s dressing is a showstopper—a wonderfully flavorful way to enjoy a big bowl of fresh greens and sprouts.
- 3 to 4 cups (175 g) roughly torn organic green leaf lettuce (about 1/2 a head)
- 1 cup (33 g) alfalfa sprouts (or broccoli sprouts)
- 1/2 (35 g) raw beet, sliced paper thin
- 1/4 (32 g) white or yellow onion, sliced thinly
- 1 (35 g) small Roma tomato, sliced
For the Dressing:
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 3 to 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sorghum syrup (sometimes called sorghum molasses; alternative: maple syrup)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
- Dash of smoked paprika
- Dash of cayenne
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large (3- to 4-quart) serving, mixing, or salad bowl, combine torn lettuce, sprouts, sliced beets, sliced onion, and sliced tomato.
- In a separate, small bowl, vigorously whisk together dressing ingredients until fully combined.
- Pour dressing over salad mixture; salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
As I girl born and raised in Chicago, the first time I heard of sorghum was when the man eight hours south of me mentioned it on one of our long-distance phone calls. Being in Tennessee, Tim had ready access to sorghum, I now know, as it’s easy to find at most grocery stores and food purveyors.
As far as I know, however, it’s still tough to find in most parts of the country, although it is available online—this one is the one we buy, and I am totally nuts about its rich flavor. (If you want to know more about it, here’s a post Tim wrote about it just a week or so after we first met.
For me, looking at it is a fun trip down memory lane; for you, it might be more interesting for the nutritional info.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.