Yes, it’s true! See that salad up there? Yep. That gorgeous salad was grown in the dead of winter during a cloudy week in my windowsill! After several long months with no fresh salads, it tasted like the best salad I’ve ever had!
I love books. Preferably real ones… I already spend too much time staring at a screen. (In fact, there was a day when I was happy to blog for books alone, but sadly they don’t pay the ever mounting blogging bills.) So when the folks at Chelsea Green Publishing Company offered me a second book to review in addition to the one I was requesting, I didn’t hesitate to say, ‘Yes!”
When it arrived in the mail, I confess I chucked the book aside with little thought. I was all about the cheese! But I did promise to review the new book and I like to be a lady of my word so I eventually took it with me during a stretch when I knew I’d be in the car for a couple hours.
I don’t remember the last time I read a book that quickly and with such excitement! I was done by the time we got home. And this is no little book we’re talking about. It’s over 200 pages!
It’s title? Year Round Indoor Salad Gardening.
Grow Salad in the Dead of Winter
That’s right. A book about growing highly nutritious salad greens, year round, without a greenhouse!
Literally, all you need is a window. (And some basic supplies. Like seeds.)
It’s such an incredibly simple, fascinating, “self-sufficient” concept. I loved it, thought you would love it, and was certain my children would love it.
Why the kids? They’re always bugging me to help plant seeds and except for big fat pea or bean or corn seeds I’m a bit of a grouch and always say no. (Case in point. A few days ago I left a packet of broccoli seeds sitting on the table while I went to go fill another tray with soil and came back to the last tray having a little mountain of seed mounded up in one little block.) The seeding method with soil sprouts is to broadcast the seeds on top of the soil. You literally can’t mess it up. Perfect for little kids!
Perfect for me too because I can get our salad planted and then go off while actually doing other things. My favorite kind of multi-tasking. Think salads as a babysitter instead of TV as a babysitter. Yeah. I never thought of it either.
Obviously, their participation increases the likelihood that they’ll try the new and distinct flavors of the various greens and sure enough, they were grazing before the salad was even harvested. They were leery of the pea shoots, in particular, at first but they ended up being their favorite.
In the dead of winter (while conserving firewood so our home was on the chilly side) and during the cloudiest couple of weeks I think we’ve had all winter, we grew a huge bowl of salad in a 3′ x 2′ space in a window sill in less than 2 weeks! (Remember, we’re a family of 10 so take that into consideration when you’re doing the math. Most families can grow almost a week’s worth of salads in that same space.)
The book walks you through the process step-by-step, thoroughly explaining why it works best with this method. For example why you should grow them in the dark, covered with soggy newspaper for the first few days until they sprout. A step which is counter intuitive. It extols the culinary virtues of the variety of seeds you can use as soil sprouts such as peas, sunflowers, radish, broccoli, kale, alfalfa, buckwheat, and more. It even goes into detail about how you can turn your soil sprouts into a lucrative cottage business.
We enjoyed our soil sprouts in a Grilled Chicken Salad with Herbed Tortilla Croutons that is one of our families favorites. The soil sprouts took it to the next level and added such a variety of flavor I fear an plain old salad will be boring from here on out.
We did have some leftover greens the next day and I can confirm that they soil sprouts taste mighty fine wrapped in a tortilla with some homemade mayonnaise, a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, and a few chopped walnuts.
Grilled Chicken Salad with Herbed Tortilla Croutons
- Grilled Chicken
- One half of a whole chicken
- olive oil
- Soil Sprout Salad
- pea shoots
- sunflower sprouts
- broccoli sprouts
- alfalfa sprouts
- kale sprouts
- (I also threw in the last 2 spinach plants that overwintered in the greenhouse and some chickweed as well just because it's growing in abundance as a greenhouse weed.)
- Herbed Tortilla Croutons
- 4 or more tortillas
- olive oil
- parmesan cheese
- garlic salt
- Salad Dressing of Choice (Although we didn't use any because I don't like salad dressing and if the older members of my family aren't on top of it, I don't make dressing.)
- While your grill is heating, smear the butter all over the chicken skin. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper and then drizzle it with olive oil and rub it all over the skin.
- Crisp and brown the chicken skin over direct heat and then transfer the chicken to indirect heat until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
- Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Arrange the tortilla rounds on a baking sheet.
- Drizzle the tops of the of the tortillas with olive oil and then brush it over the whole surface. (I'll put the olive oil on top of one, make a sandwich and then rub them together until the oil coats both tortillas.)
- Sprinkle the tops of the tortillas with garlic salt, parmesan cheese, oregano, and basil to taste.
- Toast them in the oven for about 6-8 minutes. (Maybe a little longer. Just check on them frequently.)
- Use a pizza cutter to cut them into strips or wedges.
- Wash your greens, picking off any seed shells that may be still on the leaves. (Though there weren't any on mine.)
- Dry them and toss them in a bowl.
- Prepare your salad dressing if you'll be using any.
- Once the chicken is fully cooked all you need to do is remove the meat from the bones. (Save the carcass for chicken stock. Grilled or roasted bones make the most dark flavorful stock!)
- Arrange the chicken and tortilla croutons over the salad, serve, and enjoy!