The Year of the Microgreen and My Steelhead Trout Recipe

Steelhead Trout with Microgreens and Blackberries
Pesto steelhead trout with microgreens and blackberries

I’m driving down County Line Road on the outskirts of Chickasha, Oklahoma – a small town in the heart of the Great Plains.

It’s one of those sublime, it’s-good-to-be-alive afternoons. Pastures flying past are transforming to lush green and bright patches of daffodils are taking over little yards. In a few weeks, the local Bradford pear trees will puff with white blossoms.

Spring is here. And it’s glorious.

The reason for my little road trip? I have an appointment with two men I’ve never met before. One is a nearly retired heating and air technician and the other is the 25-year-old head grower for a cannabis company.

You may be asking yourself, ‘What do these two men have in common and, more importantly, what does any of this have to do with food?’

Both very good questions.

The men are Stacy and Brendn Douglas – the father and son owners of Little Bits of Green. Together, they moonlight nights and weekends as microgreen farmers – a new venture they began together during the height of a worldwide pandemic with Brendn’s childhood best friend, Dakota Bradford.

Stacy and Brendn Douglas - Little Bits of Green
Owners of Little Bits of Green – Stacy and Brendn Douglas

Tucked in a rural neighborhood, one that might look like your own, they are growing one of the cleanest and most nutrient-dense crops of the culinary world. And to my surprise, they’re doing it from an office in Stacy’s home.

As I pull up, the senior Mr. Douglas comes out to shake my hand. Stacy is a good ol’ boy in the best sense of the word, meaning he’s an affable, shoot-you-straight kind of man who knows how to tell a good story. He immediately offers me a cold beer, which in these parts, is what we call hospitality.

He tells me that his son came home one day and announced they were going to start growing microgreens. “I’m like, what the hell is a microgreen?” he jokes. But with a lot of research and Brendn’s green thumb, it wasn’t long before their first crop was ready for harvest.

Little Bits of Green Microgreen famers

If you are unfamiliar with microgreens, they are something you have probably unwittingly experienced at a high end restaurant as a sprig of beautiful garnish. But these plants are more than just ornamental decoration for your plate. Microgreens are the young, baby versions of fully grown plants and they’re higher in concentrated vitamins and minerals – anywhere from 4 to 40 times in some instances – than their mature counterparts.

That means that not only do microgreens add aesthetic flourish, flavor and texture to a dining experience, but these tiny greens are also a healthy infusion of the “good stuff” in micro form.

“When you eat microgreens it’s almost like you’re eating your multivitamin every day.”

Brendn Douglas, Little Bits of Green

Microgreens grow to about 3 or 4 inches tall and are planted in small trays kept indoors. They are extremely clean because they are protected from the elements and pesticides. A typical tray of greens can be harvested quickly, usually in about 10 days.

When I meet Stacy’s son Brendn, a laid back young man with a serious love for vegetables and plants, he tells me, “There’s definitely a handful of people, a community, that’s known about them [microgreens] for years, but as far as the mainstream, they are just coming about.”

Brendn is a fan of the evolving Oklahoma City food scene. “I love it. I want to be a part of that community,” he says. He’s also proud to tell me that his microgreens have graced the plates of popular dining spots like Ludivine and Grey Sweater. These greens are his babies and he hopes they will someday find a home at destination dining spots like The Collective and The Parlor.

Stacy and Brendn began their business during COVID-19 with three trays of microgreens. Today, they harvest nearly 40 trays about every 10 days and offer their greens at local farmer’s markets. While they aren’t the only microgreen farmers in Oklahoma, they are one of the few local trailblazers in an industry that is going from niche to mainstream.

Stacy tells me, “They’re sayin’ 2021 is supposed to be the year of the microgreen!”

It’s no surprise. The benefits of these intensely flavored plants are undeniable, which explains their growing popularity. Brendn says, “When you eat microgreens it’s almost like you’re eating your multivitamin every day.” His favorite is the radish and he enjoys it almost daily on sandwiches.

Little Bits of Green grows several varieties which include: Amaranth, broccoli, red acre cabbage, arugula, speckled pea, kale, cilantro, wasabi mustard, sunflower, and triton/rambo purple radishes. They are already planning to expand their crops this year and hope to move into a dedicated space within the next few years.

Finally, after a few more anecdotes from Stacy, I end my educational field trip with photos and handshakes and, most importantly, with a clamshell of beautiful greens – a fact that delights my culinary little heart.

On the drive home, I find myself wondering if Stacy and Brendn Douglas are a part of a new breed of farmer emerging in Oklahoma – a breed that doesn’t need large tracts of land or traditional crops to thrive – farmers without John Deere tractors and overalls.

Perhaps.

One thing is certain. As the culinary tastes of local foodies become more sophisticated and the demand for locally grown produce increases, I think we can expect more opportunities for modern farming businesses like Little Bits of Green. A fact I welcome wholeheartedly.

I also can’t help but marvel at the idea of these crops, and others like them, journeying from humble towns to the exquisite tables of five-star restaurants and the gourmet dishes of Oklahoma chefs and home cooks alike.

I hope someday soon they make it to your table as well.

Little Bits of Green Microgreens

To sample or buy a clamshell of these beautiful, organic microgreens, you can find Little Bits of Green at the Oklahoma City Scissortail Park Farmer’s Market and the Farmer’s Public Market each weekend. They also offer home delivery options if you DM them on their Instagram page.

If you’re looking for a way to incorporate microgreens into your diet, try this recipe for pesto trout I created featuring Brendn and Stacy’s greens. This stunning dish is ideal for dinner or a backyard brunch with friends. You can also opt to grill your fish instead of baking it.

The steelhead trout is first rubbed with salt, olive oil and then a generous smothering of homemade pesto and mint leaves. After baking, a garnish of blackberries and a thick sprinkle of amaranth and wasabi mustard greens adds complexity and presentation appeal. You can also opt to add the pesto after your fish is done baking for a stronger garden-to-table flavor.

Pesto Steelhead Trout with Microgreens and Blackberries

Steelhead Trout with Microgreens and Blackberries

The steelhead trout is first rubbed with salt, olive oil and then a generous smothering of homemade pesto and mint leaves. After baking, a garnish of blackberries and a thick sprinkle of amaranth and wasabi mustard greens adds complexity and presentation appeal. You can also opt to add the pesto after your fish is done baking for a stronger garden-to-table flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 large steelhead trout filet
  • 2 cups of fresh green pesto
  • 1 cup of microgreens
  • 1 cup of blackberries
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of cracked black pepper
  • 1 bunch of mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

Rinse and pat dry your fish. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Salt and pepper fish, rub with olive oil, pesto and add mint leaves. Oil baking dish and cook skin side down for approximately 15 to 20 minutes until fish is done. Garnish with more pesto, microgreens and fresh blackberries.

Discover my pesto tips for your spring dishes on my Instagram highlights.

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