When you buy "beansprouts" in the shops they are usually Mung Bean sprouts. They are lovely and crunchy served raw in a salad or lightly cooked in a Chinese-style stir-fry. But do you know what these are...?
I bet you didn't guess. They are the sprouts from the seeds of a Butternut Squash! About twice the size of Mung Bean sprouts.
I found them growing in one of my compost bins. Sorry about the poor quality of this photo, but I haven't had much practice taking photos inside a compost bin!
With the lid on, the inside of the bin would have been almost completely dark, so the germinating seeds have reached up towards what was probably only a tiny vestige of light. They are about 15cm / 6in tall and completely "blanched".
I was immediately reminded of a meal I once had when I was working in Sweden: It was an amazing salad and it included huge sprouts very like these. I never did find out exactly what they were, but in retrospect maybe they were indeed Pumpkin / Squash sprouts. There is no doubt about the identity of these ones - you can see that some of them still had the seed-casings attached.
Anyway, this was an opportunity for free food that was too good to miss, so I picked as many as I could find.
This where they ended up - as an ingredient in an Oriental-style soup:
In the soup was home-made chicken stock, some leftover chicken meat, mushrooms, broccoli, julienned fresh ginger, fresh chilli, Five-Spice powder, salt, pepper and of course the squash sprouts. Yummy!
"What were the Butternut Squash sprouts like?" you ask. Well, to be honest, a bit insipid, and Jane found that they left her with a slightly bitter after-taste. Probably not worth cultivating then, but you don't know till you've tried! I think we'll stick with Mung Bean sprouts...