Sunday, March 9, 2008


I love to grow herbs. Nothing is better than walking out into your garden (or to your window box), kitchen shears in hand and cutting just the right amount of fresh herbs for your dish. One of my personal favorites is mint. My first herb garden I planted basil and rosemary. The mint grew uninvited and I did not have a clue what to do with it. All I had ever done was toss it with melons. There are many different kinds of mint. Look for peppermint, spearmint, apple mint, and lemon mint all great for tea. Fresh and well…. minty they are all so unique and delicious. As mint tends to take over a garden I developed many different recipes for this herb. Good for sweet and savory a natural companion for lamb I also find it great in sauces for chicken or fish. You can cut extra and place them in vases with flowers for a true spring aroma in your home. This time of year it is so abundant you can certainly play with it and make up more recipes of your own!

Mint-Mango Sauce
2 ripe mangoes, peeled, seeded, cut into slices
2 cups fresh mint leaves
4 green onions cut into 1-inch pieces
4tablespoons fresh limejuice
2 Serrano chilies, halved, seeded
Puree together in a food processor. Let stand for at least one hour or over night. Serve with grilled fish or chicken.
Mint and Edemamme Crostini
1 leek
1/4 cup chopped shallots
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 1/4 cups shelled edemame, frozen or fresh
6 T. olive oil
Salt and ground pepper
3 teaspoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 slim baguette
2 T. olive oil
1 hothouse cucumber
About 32 fresh mind leaves, rinsed
Chili powder
Lime wedges

Trim and discard dark green tops and root ends from leek. Split white stalk lengthwise and rinse well to remove dirt between layers. Finely chop leek. In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, stir leek, shallots, garlic and soybeans in 2 T. olive oil until leek is limp, 6 to 8 minutes.
Place soybean mixture in a food processor and whirl until coarsely pureed. Add remaining 3 T. olive oil, 1 T. at a time, whirling until mixture has a spreadable consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped mint. Slice baguette on a slight diagonal into pieces about 1/4 inch thick. Arrange slices on racks on two baking sheets. Brush tops lightly with olive oil. Bake in a 425-degree oven until lightly browned, 6 to 9 minutes.
Spread about 1 T. warm or cool soybean mixture on each slice of toast. Rinse cucumber and thinly slice crosswise. Garnish each toast with a cucumber slice, a fresh mint leaf, and a sprinkling of chili powder. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over each toast before eating.

Leg of Lamb with Mint Pesto

1-cup pine nuts
6 large garlic cloves
2 cups fresh mint leaves
1-cup fresh basil leaves
1/2-cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Juice of one lemon
1 5- to 6-pound leg of lamb
2 pounds baby new potatoes
12 ounces baby carrots, trimmed, peeled
Fresh mint sprigs

Finely chop pine nuts and garlic in processor. Add 2 cups mint leaves and basil and chop finely. Add oil lemon and Dijon and blend until pesto is smooth. Cut excess fat from lamb, leaving thin layer. Set lamb in large roasting pan. Make several slits in lamb with tip of small sharp knife. Reserve 1/2 cup pesto for vegetables. Spoon some pesto into each slit; rub remainder into lamb. Sprinkle lamb generously with salt and pepper. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature or cover and chill overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Roast lamb 45 minutes. Add potatoes to pan and turn to coat in pan juices. Roast 30 minutes. Add carrots and reserved 1/2-cup pesto and turn to coat carrots and potatoes in pesto and pan juices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue roasting until thermometer inserted into thickest part of lamb registers 140°F. for medium-rare, about 45 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes.
Carve lamb into thin slices. Arrange on plates with potatoes and carrots. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Beets with Mint Vinaigrette

1 lb beets
3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh orange zest (from 2 oranges)
1/2-teaspoon salt
1/2-teaspoon black pepper
1/4-cup olive oil
Garnish: fresh mint sprigs

Wash and trim beets and place on roasting pan. Roast until fork tender about 45 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle, then slip off and discard skins. Cut beets into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
While beets are roasting stir together scallions, 2 tablespoons vinegar, lemon juice to taste, mint, zest, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined. Add warm beets and toss with vinaigrette and vinegar and salt to taste. Serve warm or slightly chilled.

Mint Soba noodles
12 oz dried soba noodles
1/3-cup rice vinegar
1-tablespoon canola oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
1-teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced scallions (1 1/2 bunches)
Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until just tender, about 5 minutes, then drain in a colander. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking, and then drain well.
While noodles are cooking, stir together vinegar, oil, soy sauce, sugar red pepper, and salt until sugar is dissolved.
Toss noodles with dressing, mint, and scallions

Minty Roasted Potatoes

16 New Potatoes
1/2 cup Olive Oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
8 garlic cloves finely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves

Pre-heat oven to 350
Prick the potatoes with the tines of a fork and arrange them on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Cut the potatoes into quarters and place them in a serving bowl. While they are still hot, toss them with the oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Gently toss in the mint. This twist on a potato salad can be served warm or at room temperature.

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