I often chortle at how I start associating color with smells during this season: green tender grass and tight leafy buds—tangy and bright, rich black soil and chunky brown peat moss—earthy and woodsy, gray brown mulch—moist, decayed and heat bearing, spikes of pastel hyacinth—pungent and heady.
And hearing the chatter of frenetic life as the earth begins waking up is a symphony for the ears. From bird ballads to squirrel gossip, droning bees to belching tractors, pattering rainfall to creaking back and knee joints. Yes, perhaps the last example isn’t quite as springy as I was going for earlier, but it’s present nonetheless.
Our eyes spot a dusting of tree color slowly ripening into shades of salad bowl greens. We witness a painter’s palette of brightly-hued blooms unfolding and offering cheer. But most exciting to me is what I discover when my face is an inch from the dirt, eyeballs searching the line of seeds, freshly laid to bed. Sprouts!
As I bend to the soil, I search the crumbly earth for signs of cracks: small fissures in straight, neat lines and the sweet poking heads of tiny white shoots with baby green hats. I talk to the spears as if I were speaking to a pack of tightly swaddled, cooing infants, telling them how strong they’ll be, how magnificent they’ll become. My brain is addled from too much sun already.
This week, in honor of all my baby sprouts, I made a superman meal—a dish that even just glancing at will make you more muscular, connect more of your synapses, and if possible, allow you to become better looking. The power of sprouted mung beans. Okay, maybe their undeniable power needs to be digested before adding to your health, but they are doubtlessly impressive little warriors.
Here is a sweet gem of a dish to serve warm or cold, as a vegetarian meal, or as a lovely bed beneath your favorite fish.
Super Sprouts—Magic Mung Beans
Mirepoix – 2 cups. (The standard recipe is 2 parts onions to 1 part celery and 1 part carrot. So something like: 1 onion and 2 celery ribs and 2 medium carrots.) The trick is to dice uniformly—same size pieces.
Olive oil – a few good glugs
S & P
Stock 6 cups – although feel free to experiment with part water and part stock. I used mushroom stock.
2 cups sprouted mung beans. I used beans from a company called truRoots, but you can find them at your local health food store in bulk bins as well.
4 medium beets, peeled and diced.
1 cup chopped, toasted & skinned hazelnuts (spread raw nuts out on a baking sheet and toast in a 350° oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Wrap nuts in a kitchen towel and rub like the dickens for a couple of minutes. This will remove most of the skins.)
(If you decide not to go vegetarian feel free to cook up a few thick slices of bacon, drain and crumble)
Feta cheese – amount is up to your discretion, but I used a chunk about half the size of my fist. Valbreso was my choice.
Vinegar – again, a few good glugs. I chose an aged balsamic, but you can try any others that you think might blend well with the earthy ingredients.
Sautee the mirepoix (plus S& P) in olive oil until soft—not mushy.
While this is cooking fill a pot with your stock, bring to boil and add the mung beans, gently boiling for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cover. Allow the sprouts to meditate quietly for 4-8 minutes. Drain—and reserve your stock for another use.
Add the mung beans to your cooked mirepoix and remove from heat.
Add the diced beets and, if desired, the crumbled bacon.
If you’re serving right away, add your crumbled feta and the chugs of vinegar (maybe a tiny splash more of olive oil), stir gently and serve. Or if serving cold, refrigerate mixture and add cheese and vinegar just before serving.
Viola! Smart brain, smart body, better looking—except for that mung bean sprout in your teeth.