Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cooking Tips for Gardeners: Cooking with Fresh Mint

Mint adds an interesting flavor twist to Turkey and Quinoa Patties with Yogurt Sauce.

In Utah gardens sometimes keep producing until early October, but in September the hot-weather vegetables and herbs like tomatoes, squash, eggplant, cucumbers, and basil are definitely growing more slowly.  So let's give a big cheer for mint, which starts in the garden ultra early and lasts long into the fall.  I love fresh mint, and although I definitely have some favorite ways to use it, over the last few years I've really expanded my horizons with this hearty garden herb.  So for the latest in my series on Cooking Tips for Gardeners, here are a few thoughts about mint and recipe ideas using this flavorful herb.

Mint is an ultra hearty perennial that grows like a weed, but there are a few things to know about growing it.  First, and most important of all, if you are planting mint for the first time it is VERY important to put it where the plant is contained or your entire yard will get taken over with mint. I have mint in a small raised bed that's divided into thirds, so the mint is contained to the center part.  In the past I've used those plastic borders that you pound into the ground to control my mint, and it also grows well in pots.  Other than that, the only other thing to know about growing mint is to trim the ends of the stems when the plant starts to produce seeds.  (Trimming also helps the plant produce more leaves, so snip away at your mint often!)

Mint complements so many other flavors, especially summer foods like tomatoes, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, watermelon, melons, and peppers.  It goes well with other summery herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil, and dill and also with citrus flavors like lemon and lime, and spices like cumin, sumac, ginger, garlic, and curry powders or pastes.  But mint is much more versatile than many people realize, and I also love mint with beans, carrots, feta cheese, chicken, mushrooms, radishes, shrimp, mild-flavored fish, and mixed herb sauces.  Now, here are some of my favorite recipes that wouldn't be the same without mint, plus recipe ideas using mint from some of my blogging friends.

I love Middle Eastern foods so this Mediterranean Lettuce Salad with Purslane, Mint, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Sumac-Lemon Vinaigrette is something I could eat all summer.


Mint added a nice touch to this Moroccan Cabbage Slaw with Carrots, Cumin, Lemon, and Mint.


If I had to pick just one recipe to illustrate my love for mint, it would have to be these Cannellini Beans in Mint Marinade that I loved from the very first bite at a party.


I loved the mint in this Thai-Style Spicy Cabbage Slaw with Mint and Cilantro.


A surprising combo that really works is this Spicy Shredded Carrot Salad with Mint, Cilantro, Green Onion, Lime, and Jalapeno.


Another favorite that combines so many of my favorite foods is these Garlicky Roasted Chickpeas with Feta, Mint, and Lemon.


This Chopped Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Mint, Feta, Lemon, and Thyme is a simmer classic.


This Wake-Up-Your-Mouth Thai Cucumber Salad is something I make all summer every year!


And finally, another recipe with so many of my favorite flavors is this Cucumber and Avocado Salad with Lime, Mint, and Feta.


Here are more ideas for cooking with fresh mint, because I know if you're growing mint, you have a lot!  (Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

More Mint with Beans and Grains:
Chickpea and Edamame Salad with Lemon and Mint from Kalyn's Kitchen
Quinoa Salad with Pineapple, Broccoli, and Mint from Gluten Free Goddess
Bulgur Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Parsley, Mint, and Lemon from Kalyn's Kitchen
Kalyn's Tabbouleh with Almonds from Kalyn's Kitchen
Chickpea, Barley, and Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Mint and Feta from The Kitchn
Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad with Parsley and Mint from Kalyn's Kitchen
Sauteed Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Capers, Mint, and Sumac from Kalyn's Kitchen
Red Rice and Mint with Soy Dressing from White on Rice Couple
Quinoa Salad for a Crowd from Vintage Mixer

More Mint with Salads:
Middle Eastern Tomato Salad from Kalyn's Kitchen
Whole Wheat Orzo with Cucumber, Mint, Feta, and Olives from The Perfect Pantry
Colorful Tomato Salad with Hearts of Palm, Mint, and Spicy Thai Dressing from Kalyn's Kitchen
Cucumber Salad with Mint and Feta from Simply Recipes

Thai-Flavored Raw Broccoli Salad with Red Onion, Mint, and Peanuts from Kalyn's Kitchen
Fattoush Lebanese Salad from Kalyn's Kitchen
Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad from Joy the Baker
Israeli Salad with Pickles and Mint from The Shiksa in the Kitchen

More Mint with Vegetables and Fruits:
Spicy Grilled Eggplant with Red Pepper, Parsley, and Mint from Kalyn's Kitchen
Gluten-Free Fried Zucchini Chips with Lime-Mint Dipping Sauce from Gluten Free Goddess
Roasted Summer Squash with Lemon and Mint from Kalyn's Kitchen
Melon with Lime, Peanut, and Mint Topping from The Perfect Pantry
Grilled Eggplant with Garlic-Cumin Vinaigrette, Feta, and Two Herbs from Kalyn's Kitchen
Greek Stewed Swiss Chard with Tomatoes, Mint, and Lima Beans from The Taste Space
Melon, Mint, and Feta Salad from Budget Bytes
Caramelised Corn with Fresh Mint from The Purple Foodie

More Mint with Meat, Poultry, or Fish:
Spicy Shrimp and Cucumber Salad with Lemon, Mint, and Cumin from Kalyn's Kitchen
Italian Eggplant with Crumbled Beef, Tomatoes, and Mint from Gluten Free Goddess
Middle Eastern Spicy Ground Beef with Baharat, Mint, and Cilantro from Kalyn's Kitchen
Grilled Pork Kebobs with Cucumber-Mint Yogurt Sauce from Sass and Veracity
Thai-Inspired Turkey Mini-Meatball Lettuce Wraps from Kalyn's Kitchen
Lamb and Mint Salad from No Recipes
Grilled Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers with Yogurt Sauce from Kalyn's Kitchen
Lamb Chops with Cilantro-Mint Sauce from Leite's Culinaria

More Mint in Sauces, Dressings, and Dips:
White Bean Dip with Kalamata Olives and Mint from Cookin' Canuck
Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Feta and Mint from Kalyn's Kitchen
Vegan Basil Mint Parsley "Pesto" from Gluten-Free Goddess
Broiled Wild Salmon with Mustard-Mint-Parsley Sauce from Kalyn's Kitchen
Mint Chutney from The Perfect Pantry
Mint and Coriander Chutney from eCurry

More Mint in Soup or Stew:
Chilled Mint Pea Soup from Soup Chick
Spicy Zucchini Soup from Simply Recipes
Eggplant, Roasted Pepper, and Mint Soup from Soup Chick
Cool Honeydew Mint Soup from Cookin' Canuck
Tomato Mint Soup from Israeli Kitchen

Even More Mint Recipes and Ideas:
Fresh Mint Ice Cream from Andrea Meyers
Mint Chip Ice Cream from David Lebovitz
Mint Apple Jelly from Andrea Meyers

Still want More?
In 2008 I wrote a series about Cooking with Fresh Herbs for BlogHer.com and shared ideas for Cooking with Fresh Mint.


Do you share my love of fresh mint?  If you have a good recipe using this herb, please feel free to leave your recipe link in a comment.  You can see the other Cooking Tips for Gardeners by clicking the label.
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17 comments:

  1. I need to expand my horizons, too, when it comes to mint. I have used it in a wild-rice and corn salad from the American Institute for Cancer Research - it was great! Anyway, your recipe links are incredible, and pretty darned exhaustive - thank you!

    I don't know where to start - they all look great.

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  2. I love this series of cooking tips for gardeners. Even those of us who have lots of mint (I call mine "free range mint"!) in the garden can find lots of new ideas here. Thanks so much for linking to some of my recipes.

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  3. And don't forget the Mojitos to wash down all these tasty dishes! ;)

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  4. I don't have a garden but I rarely know what to do with mint! Thanks for this great post!

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  5. Thanks for the great ideas. My neighbor started growing mint and it's spread under the fence. The only thing I've used it for is mint tea which is delicious.
    Ann

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  6. I love this new series. So much delicious inspiration. I'm definitely underutilizing my mint! :)

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  7. I have mint that comes up in one of my planters and when it fills out, I start wondering what to do with it. I haven't always been a fan of mint, so am continuing to experiment. You've got some delicious ideas here that will keep me busy! Thanks for including one of mine.

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  8. I love mint as well! Its so versatile, can be used in sweet and savoury dishes.

    I feel it depend on the mint type and where u grow it (climate and soil), because not every mint picks up a full power growth.

    My favourite mint type is the Moroccan mint.

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  9. So glad people are finding this useful. And of course Mojitos are always good. (I decided not to include drinks, because some people think that's all mint is good for.) I have not tried Moroccan Mint but would love to try some.

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  10. For anyone else who is interested, I just googled "Moroccan Mint" and it looks just like what I have in my garden, so it's just a variety of spearmint I'm guessing.

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  11. Mint is one of my favorites. I like adding some in meatballs with a bit of cumin as it really adds an interesting flavor.

    For those who grow it, be sure to dry what you don't use as fresh and store in a spice jar. Crumble it in your fingers or palms to release its flavor. It's just as tasty in most recipes as the fresh and is like a breath of fresh air in winter.

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  12. I have tons of mint in my garden and i was just looking for recipes. Great ideas!

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  13. I haven't grown mint in a while but I remember it taking over my garden - wish I had known there were so many versatile ways to use it back then. Great roundup Kalyn!

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  14. In our house, mint used to be relegated to mojitos and dessert garnishes. Now that I've discovered how fantastic it is in savory dishes, I find that I'm actually able to make a dent in our very prolific mint plants. Now...on to your recipes!

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  15. Hey Kalyn,

    I find mint so under-appreciated.. it grows like weeds but most people don't even cook with it!

    Thanks for including the Greek stewed vegetables - defintiely one of my favourites.

    This is another one of my favourite savoury mint dishes: http://tastespace.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/chickpeas-and-chana-dal-cooked-together-in-mint-sauce/

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  16. So happy to hear from so many mint lovers!

    Janet, love the sound of that chickpea dish!

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  17. Your blog is very nice,so rich and beautiful to see.

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