Every summer I get green with envy over my friends who have gardens. I’ve mentioned it many times in this space, especially when my friends start gifting me their bumper crops of zucchini, basil, mint, tomatoes and peppers. I was so inspired by the bounty this year that I decided to turn this pre-war walk-up into a plant paradise! It started because a friend at work gave me an extra eggplant plant. It needed re-potting and when I did it, it looked so lonely on my bare windowsill. So after a trip to the plant store, I came back with some basil seeds, wildflower seeds and a bunch of other plants. And while I was at it, I decided to start sprouting my own lentils, chickpeas and buckwheat. Darya had mentioned doing this when she visited me last summer too! I’d been buying them at a premium to add to salads, smoothies and soccas, but when I realized how easy it was to make sprouts at home, I just had to because…well, law school loans. If I could do this without poisoning myself, you can do it too. The only trick in sprouting different legumes all in one jar is to make sure they all sprout at the same rate. These three do.
Aside from the fresh taste of sprouts, there are a lot of nutritional benefits to them along with the fact that your legumes grow little tails. Legumes contain phytic acid, which can be difficult to digest. Sprouting neutralizes the phytic acid, which means more vitamins and minerals can be absorbed by your body as they’re digested.
Sprouting starts the germination process, which changes the composition of the legumes. Sprouting increases the amounts of vitamins and minerals in the lentils, especially B vitamins and carotene. It also produces Vitamin C. Sprouting also helps break down some of the sugars in legumes that cause intestinal gas. And yes, I just used that phrase on a food blog. Best of all. It only takes about 48 hours for these to sprout and little to no effort. Put two tablespoons each of dry lentils, chickpeas and buckwheat in a large jar. Cover with water. Cover the jar with a paper towel and a rubber-band. Drain them 12 hours later, rinse 12 hours after that. Rinse, rinse, until sprouts are desired length and done.
But let’s talk about my plants. On the top left, the big one is my eggplant plant. I can’t wait to see if it actually grows eggplants. The two pots with only soil have wildflowers and basil. There’s a snow white waffle plant, dragon’s tongue and some ivy. I also got a big plant that seems to have attracted a single cute green bug that I’ll take any day over the endemic NYC bugs that are not to be named lest they come. Shudder. I potted all of these and got soil all over my bedroom floor and couldn’t be prouder. Both the plants and the sprouts are thriving and watering them all has become part of the routine. I plan to grow more herbs and get a few more plants before the summer’s end. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the farmer’s market, being outside and bringing a bit of the outdoors into the apartment. Happy Wednesday!
HOW TO SPROUT LENTILS
- 2 tablespoons dry red lentils (any lentil will work here)
- 2 tablespoons dry chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons dry buckwheat (not roasted and not kasha)
Put the dry lentils, chickpeas and buckwheat in a jar. Add enough water to cove them and let sit overnight. The legumes will eventually almost triple in size so be sure your container is big enough. Don’t put an airtight lid on the jar. Use a piece of thin cloth (cheesecloth would be perfect) or a paper towel and secured it with the ring part of the jar top. You could also use a rubber-band.
Drain the water out of the jar, replace the cloth and let the jar sit on the counter, out of direct sunlight. I usually like to let it sit upside down leaning against a wall at a 45 degree angle onto a plate so the extra water can drain. Every 12 hours, add water to the jar, give it a swirl and then drain it out again.
You should start seeing little tails in 24-36 hours. After about 2 days I like to start eating them. Depending on the amount of lentils you’re sprouting, this process could take up to 4 days.
When they’re done, spread them on a paper towel to let them dry out a little bit, then store in an airtight container in the fridge. They should last about a week.