Part IV – Lets start cooking with mint!

This is part 4 of my series on mint that started with the main article in the June 28, 2012 Tribune. See the online follow-ups with part 2 and part 3.

Frankly, I’m ready to stop growing & harvesting… it’s time to tie the apron on! These recipes are for spearmint, I still have yet to do any cooking with peppermint… for a “just brushed your teeth” freshness chew up a bunch of fresh peppermint!

Click for More Mint Marinade Recipes

Soups & Sauces

No I haven’t put a bunch of mint into my spaghetti sauce (yet), but mint does pair well with tomatoes (as in the above marinade). Garnish a bowl of creamy tomato soup with a few leaves of fresh mint. Add mint to your next beef or lamb stew, sprinkle dried mint into ground lamb/wild game. Minty Lamburgers!

Fresh vs. Dried

When heating & cooking with mint, you can certainly use dried mint leaves. 1 TBL fresh mint is equivalent to 1 tsp dried mint.

Turmeric & Cumin

Common in so many Indian and Asian recipes, just add mint! Turmeric is spicy and turns everything a bright saffron yellow/orange. Cumin is mild and aromatic… just like mint. Make a batch of rice, or beef or chicken gravy add the 2 spices and mint… add sautéed chopped onions, red bell peppers, lots of garlic, then finish with fresh lemon juice. These flavors pair very will with chicken and my fave: prawns & scallops!

Use mint where you would use fresh basil or parsley

Try a couple of tiny mint leaves (or blossoms) on heirloom tomato slices with fresh mozzarella – a twist on a Caprese, to serve: drizzle with a good Balsamic vinegar and extra virgin Olive Oil.

Salads – of course. Sprinkle mint onto any green salad. Italian dressing, oil & vinegar based dressing all go well… even Ranch. One of my faves is French or Catalina red dressings, perfect with a little mint chopped into them.

Click for Tabbouleh or Couscous Salad recipe

Compound Mint Butter

“Compound” is a fancy chef term for adding sliced mint (or other herbs) to softened butter and chilling or freezing for later use. Roll a bunch of mint leaves into a tight cigar shape, then slice end to end as thin as you can into tiny strands, add to softened butter, roll into a log shape with plastic wrap and freeze. Leave frozen and just slice off a medallion when you need some. Great on an English muffin or crunchy French bread. Wonderful for sautéing up some fresh veggies.

Snacks and Dipping Sauces

Go healthy by adding more fruits to your daily meals & snacks. When adding fruit to yogurt add fresh mint leaves (kids love these).

Mint pairs well with just about any citrus fruits. Pears, pineapples, mangoes, apples, oranges, all red berries and my fave – grapefruit. Make freezer jams or jellies with fresh mint, you can’t go wrong.

Refreshingly Minty Drinks

As you now know, mint and citrus go very well together, so add some to your favorite fruity drinks, lemonade, an “Arnold Palmer” 50/50 fresh lemonade and iced tea, delicious in cranberry juice, orange juice and well, experiment…

Drink Up! (Adults Only)

Click for Mint Julep Recipe

Click for Mojito Recipe

Mint… me!

Ok, these should give you some starting points to use up your spearmint. If you have some fun ideas, recipes and stories about mint, please write to me and I can share them here. Also, I have no idea for uses with peppermint in any cooking methods… if you do, let me know ok?

Thanks for reading!

-Chef “Frankly” Frank Schuchman