Cooking with herbs-mint
Welcome to the LWTM – ‘Cooking with herbs’ blog series
In this blog series you will find historical information and recipes about the most commonly used kitchen herbs. They do not only add flavour, but they also make a positive impact on our health and well-being. To find out more about other kitchen herbs, please type ‘cooking with herbs’ into the search box.
Mint ( Mentha)
The name ‘mint’ comes from the Greek nymph ‘Minthe’, who was transformed into a mint plant.
The mint plant has aromatic, oblong leaves and prefers to grow in a moist soil. There are many mint varieties, the majority have dark to pale green leaves, but some plants have purple, greyish and even pale yellow leaves and white/purple flowers. Mint will grow 10 to 120 cm tall and has a tendency to spread. If you grow it at home, it is best to grow it in pots to avoid spreading too far.
The best-known varieties for cooking are peppermint, spearmint and apple mint and they are best used as freshly plucked leaves.
If you have more mint than you can use, you can store it for a few days in the fridge. Another option is to chop it up into small pieces and freeze it together with water as ice-cubes. These can be added to drinks.
In hot countries, a refreshing mint tea is served at most occasions, but particularly to seal a business deal or to welcome guests. But mint is also used in cold drinks and soups such as mojito (please find a recipe below) and pea & mint soup.
Here are a few summery recipes with mint, perfect for a BBQ or as outdoors meal.
This is one of my all time favourite dips. I love it with pitta bread and particularly with grilled fish, meat and sea food (it works particularly well with grilled squid!). All these recipes below serve 4 people.
Ingredients: 3 tbsp extra virgin oil, 1/2 cucumber (i like it with peel, but you can also peel it) – diced, 115g (40z) plain yogurt – Greek style whole-milk works best, but you can also do it with less fatty varieties,
3 tbsp. roughly chopped fresh mint, 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 2-3 crushed garlic gloves, salt and pepper to taste.
1. It could not be simpler. Start with the yoghurt and add all the ingredients in and stir it all together, it takes only a few minutes! This dip will keep in the fridge for a few days.
If you want to find out more about the benefits of yoghurt, please read this post.
Smoked aubergine and pepper salad:
This salad (together with the tzatziki) is a good mezze dish, best served on a hot summer’s day. It can be
prepared as main course or side dish.
Ingredients for the salad: 2 medium aubergines (sliced into 1cm thick), round pieces, 2 red peppers (deseeded and halved), 6 tbsp extra olive oil, 2 pitta breads, 1 tbsp. freshly cracked or ground coriander – this is optional
Ingredients for the dressing: 4-5 garlic cloves, Juice of 1 lemon (about 4 tbsp), 5 tsp extra virgin oil, 4 tbsp of roughly chopped mint, 2 tbsp of treacle or honey, 1 tsp ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large bowl, combine the aubergine, red peppers, 4 tbsp. oil, salt and pepper. Either grill or cook them until soft (around 4-5 minutes on each side). Then put them back into the bowl.
2. Meanwhile chop the garlic into small pieces and brown in a separate pan.
3. Rub the pitta bread with the remaining 2 tbsp. oil and sprinkle the coriander on it. Then grill it until it is slightly charred and cut it into wedges.
4. Combine the browned garlic with all the other ingredients from the dressing section.
5. Finally pour the dressing over the grilled vegetables and serve together with the toasted pitta bread.
This is a most refreshing summer drink. This version is with alcohol, but you can also change it into a non-alcoholic drink. In this case replace the rum by either more lemon/lime juice or replace it with elderflower juice.
Ingredients: 20 fresh min leaves (chop most of them, but leave a few for garnish),
2 tbsp chopped fresh watermelon (without seeds)
Juice of 1 lime (2 tbsp), 1 tbsp. granulated sugar, 60ml (2 fl oz) light rum, 90 ml (3fl oz) soda water
1. Put the watermelon, crushed mint leaves, lime juice and sugar in a tall glass and mass them together (or even better blend them shortly in a food processor) – until everything is well crushed. Fill a glass with ice cubes, pour in the rum and mashed mixture and top up with soda water. Finally garnish with a watermelon wedge and some mint leaves.