By Julie Christensen
Looking for recipes with fresh mint as an ingredient?
Mint has been cultivated for culinary and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. In Medieval times, people used it to scent their baths and homes. Early colonists to the United States brought along mint to treat insomnia, headaches and even the bite of a mad dog. They also enjoyed drinking mint tea, not only for its refreshing taste, but because it wasn’t taxed.
The species name Mentha comes from an old Roman myth. Minthe, a beautiful, young nymph, caught the eye of Pluto, God of the underworld. When Pluto’s wife, Persephone, discovered Pluto’s dalliance, she changed Minthe into a humble plant, trodden upon by foot travelers. Pluto couldn’t reverse Persephone’s curse. Instead, he gave Minthe the gift of a fresh, lovely fragrance.
Today, mint is used most frequently in personal products, such as gum, toothpaste and mouthwash. High in salicylic acid, it’s also used to treat acne and minor skin irritations. In the kitchen, mint is valued for its fresh, sweet flavor and cooling qualities. You can find fresh mint in most supermarkets, but it grows easily in windowsill pots or a kitchen herb garden. Why not keep a pot on hand to enliven lemonade, salads and even a plain glass of water? If you’d like to know more about cooking with mint, read on for some fresh mint recipes.
Fresh Mint Recipes
Mint is among the most winter hardy of herbs and is one of the first herbs to appear each spring in the garden. Mint is a natural accompaniment to early spring dishes, including this one that calls for spring peas and mint. Try Risotto with Bacon, Green Peas and Mint, from About.com.
Kashi, Mint and Almond Pilaf from Whole Living. Kashi is a cooked, whole-grain pilaf typically served for breakfast. In this recipe, though, Kashi mixes beautifully with almonds and mint to make a colorful dinner side dish. If you can’t find Kashi, substitute barley, farro or wild rice.
Spicy Brussels Sprouts with Mint from the Huffington Post. This unique dish, a popular favorite at Momofuku Ssäm Bar in Manhattan, features tangy-sweet Asian flavors, chiles and a surprising crunch. Try it. It’s addictive!
A list of mint recipes wouldn’t be complete without one involving lamb. Forget bottled mint sauce, though. This Roast Racks of Lamb with New Potatoes and Mint Pesto from Epicurious adds a fresh, new twist to an old classic.
Crunchy Sprout and Daikon Salad from Whole Living incorporates lots of crisp, colorful vegetables in a spicy sesame oil and mint dressing. Perfect for a light, quick lunch you can feel good about.
For a light, savory main dish, try Mango Glazed Turkey Breast from the Huffington Post. This dish incorporates a sweet and savory glaze made from mango chutney, cilantro, chiles and mint. Serve it with wild rice and roasted asparagus for a colorful spring meal.
Rice-Seared Trout with Hazelnut Brown Butter from Bon Appetit starts with a light breading made from ground rice. Add hazelnuts, fresh mint and orange slices for a highly flavored, unique dish.
Here’s a dish suitable for fall. Try Apple Walnut Salad from Mother Earth Living. This dish pairs tart apples with English walnuts and a light mint dressing. Serve it alone or on greens.
What’s more refreshing on a hot day than a glass of mint lemonade? This recipe for Hint-of-Mint Lemonade comes from Taste of Home and includes orange juice, as well as lemon juice for added sweetness. Fresh mint comes in a variety of flavors, including lemon mint, spearmint, peppermint, apple mint and chocolate mint. Try different types of mint in your cooking to find the one you prefer.
In the winter, trade lemonade for minted hot chocolate with this sophisticated recipe from Food Network. Peppermint Hot Chocolate doesn’t call for fresh mint, but if you’ve got a pot sitting on your kitchen windowsill, why not add a few sprigs for color and flavor?
Craving something sweet? Round off your meal with Chocolate Mint Layer Cake from Epicurious. It features a decadent chocolate cake with Mint Whipped Cream.
When she’s not writing about gardening, food and canning, Julie Christensen enjoys spending time in her gardens, which includes perennials, vegetables and fruit trees. She’s written hundreds of gardening articles for the Gardening Channel, Garden Guides and San Francisco Gate, as well as several e-books.