Mint: Love it or Hate it?
By Brenda Hyde
In my experience, people either love mint or hate it. I have witnessed tirades on the subject of mint in the garden. However, I have found that if you grow it in pots, either sunk in the ground or with your other container plants, it is a wonderful addition to the garden.
Mint should be grown in sun or partial shade, and kept fairly moist. It spreads by runners under the ground and also by seed if you let it flower. The key here is containing the roots, and harvesting frequently so it does not go to seed. There are many wonderful varieties of mint such as apple, chocolate, pineapple plus the classic spearmint and peppermint. They are interchangeable in recipes. It would be a shame to shun mint because of it's unruly ways, especially when you can control it with proper care.
Mint is not just for tea!
Mint is a great addition to beverages, but it is also a culinary herb. The following recipes contain fresh mint, and will demonstrate how versatile it is in cooking and beverages.
Mint and Citrus Cooler
12 cups fresh chilled orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 large bunch fresh mint
2 lemons thinly sliced
2 limes, thinly sliced
1 large orange, thinly sliced
Mix orange and lemon juice in a large pitcher. Add half the mint and crush it with the back of a wooden spoon after you add to the juices. Mix in fruit slices. Add ice and mix. Pour into glasses, garnishing with remaining mint. 10 servings.
Cucumber Mint Salad
3 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon fresh mint, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 cup or 8 ounces plain yogurt
2 tablespoons whipping cream
Place cucumbers in colander and sprinkle with salt. Let rest 15 minutes. Rinse and drain on paper towels. Mix the remaining ingredients together, add cucumbers and stir to coat. Season with pepper. Chill. Can be prepared up to 5 hours ahead of time. Six servings.
Lima Bean, Ham and Mint Salad
2 cups frozen or canned lima beans
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons herb or wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
2 heads of endive, cut into strips
1 head romaine lettuce cut into strips
3 ounces smoked ham, cut into thin strips
10 large mint leaves, cut into think strips
Cook beans according to instructions. Drain. Toss with oil and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until well chilled. Whisk vinegar and mustard in a small bowl. Gradually add the oil while whisking. Season with salt and pepper. Combine beans, greens and the other ingredients. Add dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately. Makes 2-3 servings.
Lamb Steaks with Horseradish Mint Sauce
1 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 lamb chops or leg steaks
Salt and pepper
Combine first three ingredients. Set aside. Preheat grill or broiler. Combine mustard and garlic and rub on both sides of lamb. Season with salt and pepper. Grill lamb to desired doneness, about 3-5 minutes on each side for medium rare. Serve with sauces. Four servings.
White Beans with Ham
1 pound dry Great Northern Beans, or about 4 cans precooked.
1 cup diced ham
1/2 cup fresh mint
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Soak and cook dried beans according to directions and drain. Or open and drain canned beans. Transfer to large bowl and cool slightly. Add ham, mint, cilantro, oil and vinegar; toss gently. Season with salt and pepper. Chill. Can be made one day ahead and refrigerated; then brought to room temperature. Add more olive oil and vinegar if necessary.
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