These tiny leaves pack a big nutritional punch.
Credit: Photo: bhofack2/Getty Images

You may have seen tiny leaves called microgreens at your local farmers market or with the specialty lettuces at the supermarket. Or perhaps they’ve shown up on your plate as a garnish at your favorite date-night restaurant. What are microgreens, though?

They’re simply seedlings from vegetable and lettuce plants—if you garden, think of them as the tiny plants you often thin out when growing lettuce from seed. They come in striking and varied colors, with flavors that hint at the mature product. Some of my favorites: Amaranth microgreens have burgundy-magenta stems, purplish-green leaves, and a grassy taste. Red Bull’s Blood beet microgreens boast brilliant fuschia stems, bright green leaves, and a telltale earthiness. Broccoli microgreens are deep green, with a sweet, faint broccoli essence. And then there are radish microgreens—bright green, beautifully spicy, and crisp. That’s nowhere near all: There are many more varieties that you might see at the farmers market … or easily grow yourself.

Goodbye, salad fatigue!

No worries if you don’t have a garden plot: You can grow them inside on a table near a window, and they take only a week or two. Start here for a great assortment of seeds from which to choose.

Need more convincing to give the petite leaves a try? Research shows a nutritional benefit: Many microgreens contain higher concentrations of some nutrients, such as vitamins C and E and beta carotene, than the mature vegetables—as much as four to six times more. Beautiful: check. Delicious: check. Nutritious: ding-ding-ding! Go on, get to know microgreens.

Treat yourself to a fancified avocado toast topped with microgreens, and your Instagram feed will thank you. Or pile a gorgeous tangle of them on any salad, a creamy pureed soup, a pasta toss, your favorite burger, homemade pizza, or soft-scrambled eggs. Just give them a good rinse to remove dirt, and gently pat the delicate leaves dry before using (they might be too small for your salad spinner).