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TIP OF THE DAY: A Pot Of Mint

applemint-spearmint-peppermint-230

You can get a sampler of mints from
WhiteflowerFarm.com. From left: Apple mint,
spearmint and peppermint.

 

Native to the Mediterranean and popular in western sweets like ice cream and chocolate, mint is a staple in savory dishes as well: that famous English dish, roast lamb with mint sauce and buttered peas (a modern version is lamb stir-fry with mint (add some rosemary, too) and meat and vegetable dishes of Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines.

Mint also migrated east to become a basic ingredient in the meat and vegetables dishes of the Pacific Rim. The aromatic herb has a sweet flavor with a cool, refreshing aftertaste. Try adding a bit to tzatziki and raita.

A few sprigs will enliven a green salad, a beet salad or spicy arugula. Mint mixes well with basil and tomatoes too. It’s an ingredient in tabouli—bulgur wheat, parsley, mint and tomatoes. And it’s so refreshing in iced or hot tea or mineral water.

Mint is a cocktail essential (no mint, no Mojito). We freeze leaves of mint in ice cube trays to add “mint ice” to sparkling water, iced tea and juice.

There are numerous varieties of mint. Common types in the U.S. include apple mint, chocolate mint, ginger mint, orange mint, pineapple mint and the most famous duo, spearmint and peppermint. Each adds its own nuances to dishes. Start with a pot of spearmint. It’s what stores typically sell as “mint.”

  • Spearmint is most often used in recipes and food products: lamb, mint jelly and mint tea, for example. It is a great complement to new potatoes and eggplant, and as an accent in salads. It’ss one of the most popular food garnishes.
  • Peppermint, a more robust flavor, is used in sweets and beverages.
  • Apple mint, often found at farmers markets, has the scent of minted apples. When you see a jar of apple mint jelly, it’s been made with apple mint—not apples and mint.
  • Any of the three makes a delicious cup of mint tea.

    Mint grows quickly. A pot in your window will encourage you to make the recipes we’ve listed more frequently; and you may become addicted to the fresh mint tea recipe, below.

  • Crab Salad With Lemongrass and Mint
  • Porcini-crusted Australian Lamb Rib Chops With Fresh Pea, Mint And Feta Salad and Rack of Lamb With Quinoa-Hazelnut Crust & Mint Pesto
  • Honey Mojito Mint Ham Glaze
  • RECIPE: Mint Tea

    Mint tea is the unofficial national drink of Morocco. Wherever you go, from shops to homes, you’ll be offered a glass of hot mint tea—green tea steeped with mint. While it is traditionally sweetened, it’s deliciously refreshing with no added sweeteners. Make yourself a cup:

    Ingredients
    – 1 cups water
    – 1 teaspoon loose green tea leaves or 1 green tea bag
    – 2-3 sprigs fresh spearmint
    – Optional sweetener: agave nectar, sugar or non-caloric sweetener

    Preparation
    1. Boil water and steep tea. Cover and up to 5 minutes. Add the agave and stir to blend. Strain and serve.

    2. Garnish with a mint sprig. While it’s not part of Moroccan mint tea, you can add a squeeze of lemon or lime.

    If you are preparing multiple portions, add the bunch of mint to a teapot.

    For iced mint tea: Let the tea cool to room temperature, transfer to a covered pitcher or bottle and chill. Serve in a tall glass over ice, garnished with a fresh mint sprig.





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