Learn how to grow your own micro-herb garden
Food expert Campbell Mickel, co-owner of the new Merienda Bib Gourmand restaurant in Edinburgh, tells us what inspired him to grow his own micro-herbs to add to Merienda dishes and what you can do to get started!
Micro-herbs are tender, nutrient-dense immature plants that can be grown year round. These are the seedlings of plants which are usually harvested when fully developed, they are like any other plant but usually harvested when there are four or more leaves. The edible part of Microgreen consists of the stem, cotyledons, and the first pair of young true leaves.
Campbell decided to grow and harvest his own micro-herbs for Merienda to add beauty, flavor and freshness to any dish. While micro herbs can be grown in natural light, they will grow faster on a sunny windowsill or under grow lights. Campbell uses these special grow lights to allow his micro-herbs to thrive.
You can use almost any vegetable seed to grow micro-herbs (some are tastier than others), but many companies offer special micro-herb seed mixes that are a great option for beginners to. experiment at home. If you are looking to get started, Campbell recommends growing micro cilantro first because it is very easy to grow, looks amazing, and compliments so many different types of food. All you need to get started are heat lamps, seeds, soil, and water.
Once you’ve stocked up and your herbs have started growing, Campbell recommends harvesting every 7-10 days. To harvest, you need to cut the shoots just above ground level with scissors. Many types of herbs can regrow and be cut multiple times. Keep in mind that later the contents of the bin can be added to your compost pile. Micro-herbs are best eaten right after harvest, but will keep in a glass jar in the refrigerator for a few days.
While you can use micro herbs to add color to a dish, they have a definite taste and therefore should complement the meal you are cooking and serving. Campbell particularly recommends serving a micro herb if its big brother is present in the dish, to enhance flavor and maximize nutrients.
Campbell suggests the following four herbs to get you started:
Coriander – coriander is full of flavor. This leafy herb brings a real aromatic punch to your kitchen or to your salads.
Pea shoots – pea shoots have a distinct nutty flavor and are full of vitamins A, B, C and E. They are wonderful in a salad and their tendrils are very appealing.
Garlic chives – the sprouts, when cut, will add a slight flavor of garlic and onion to any dish to which they are added. The flowers also add a mild onion / garlic flavor and can be used as a garnish.
Micro radish – The pleasantly peppery radish microgreens have a flavor similar to that of root radishes.
Merienda serves Mediterranean-inspired small plates of the best artisan Scottish produce – with a tasting menu where you decide the dishes. It is an upscale, relaxed and refined dining experience, where the dishes are as good as they taste.