Mint — just the name makes my mouth feel cool. What a refreshing flavor this herb brings to the table! And, it’s quite versatile, paired with both sweet as well as savory dishes.
Of course, we all associate mint with sweet foods, like candies and ice cream, but its cooling, peppery bite is a great flavor enhancement in plenty of savory dishes, in cuisines from India to North Africa, Thailand, and even our our own American Southern cooking. How about a few leaves added to your summer salad, to add that fresh, clean, cool zip?
Mint grows well here in the Northwest but let the planter BEWARE! Mint spreads like wild fire, and it is VERY DIFFICULT to remove it from your garden (or elsewhere) once it has taken root. So-o-o, my advice is to plant it in a pot!
varieties of mint (just a few)
spearmint — most popular variety used in cooking, because it brings a mild, sweet flavor.
peppermint — more pungent, gives more flavor to ice creams, candies and extracts.
chocolate mint — yep, just like it sounds! How fabulous is that!!?? It looks slightly different, with brown tinges at the edges of the leaves:
Mint is great for palate cleansing, but has health benefits such as digestion, depression, headaches, and congestion! WOW! and it tastes great!
So, what are you going to do with your newly harvested mint? How about in that salad with the beautiful, fresh crisp greens? Or mint tea?
simple syrup — Simmer equal parts sugar and water with ½ part mint leaves. Turn off the heat and let steep for 30 minutes, then strain and chill. The syrup will keep 3 weeks in the refrigerator. Use to sweeten iced tea, or fresh squeezed lemonade.
fresh fruit topper — Whisk together equal parts fresh lime juice and honey, then stir in chopped mint leaves. Drizzle over fresh fruit.
We make LOTS of unique punches and flavored water here at Sizzleworks — like
cucumber mint water — add a few sprigs of mint and some thinly sliced cucumbers to a pitcher; fill with cold water and let stand in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Or substitute melon for the cucumber….
And speaking of refreshing, how about a palate cleanser in the midst of a great meal?
cucumber mint champagne granita
- 2 cucumbers, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon mint leaves
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- dash salt
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/2 cup Champagne (or sparkling lemon lime beverage for a non-alcoholic version)
Place cucumber chunks, mint, sugar, salt, lime juice and Champagne in blender jar. Puree until smooth. Chill until VERY COLD. Pour into a shallow metal pan in the freezer. Stir the mixture with a fork every 15 minutes, until it resembles snow. For a smoother version, freeze in ice cream freezer until firm and scoopable. Serve as a palate cleanser.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups granita.
minted pea soup
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 6 large scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 2 cups shelled peas (from about 2 pounds in the pod), or frozen tiny green peas (no need to thaw)
- 1 15-ounce can chicken broth
- 2 large sprigs of mint
- 1 cup buttermilk or crème fraiche
- salt and white pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon Madeira
In large pan, heat butter over medium high-heat. Add scallions and a bit of salt. Cook until the scallions begin to brown. Drizzle over the honey; cook until bubbly. Add the peas and cook 5 minutes longer, until the peas begin to pop. Pour broth over; bring to a boil. Strip the leaves from one sprig of mint, and add them to the pot. Cook just until peas soften, about 10 minutes. Cool mixture to room temperature if serving cool. Otherwise, proceed.
Puree the pea mixture to desired consistency. Stir in buttermilk or créme fraiche, Madeira, and correct seasonings.
Ladle the soup into shallow bowls, garnish with the remaining mint leaves. Serve hot or cool.
Makes aout 4 1/2 cups soup, which may be served hot or chilled.
lime mint gelato
- 1 medium lemon
- 4 limes
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cups COLD whipping cream (or 1 1/4 cups buttermilk + 1 1/4 cups cream)
- 15-20 mint leaves, cut into fine chiffonade
- dash of salt
- 2-3 tablespoons lime vodka, optional
- 1 lime, sliced into 6 wedges
- additional mint leaves
Zest 2 of the limes. Add to the juice of all four limes plus juice of one lemon. Stir in the sugar, then the cream, mint and salt. Add lime vodka if using. Chill at least 4 hours. Freeze in ice cream freezer.
Scoop into ice cream dishes. Squeeze lime juice over, garnish with mint leaves.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.