Around the world, mint has long been celebrated in all its myriad forms including recipes. Its refreshing taste and cooling aroma lend it to a variety of sweet and savory dishes and hot and cold beverages.
There are dozens of species of mint; the most popular of which are peppermint and spearmint. With bright green leaves and a slightly peppery flavor, peppermint is more pungent while spearmint, with its grey-green or green leaves, is milder in flavor and fragrance.
All mint types can be used interchangeably, but as a general rule, spearmint varieties are used for recipes like Moroccan Mint Tea and this beautiful Beet and Mint Slaw, while the peppermint varieties are often used for healing purposes such as massage oil, aroma therapy, and of course, peppermint tea. Peppermint extract is used to bring a strong cooling flavor and aroma to mint-flavored ice cream, candies and treats like Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Peppermint Frosting and Chocolate Mint Pots de Crème.
When cooking with mint, remember that the dried version is more concentrated so you need to use less. In general, the flavor of dried herbs is released slowly through longer-cooking, slowly simmered dishes like soups, stews, sauces and bisques. So you may find you use more dried mint in the fall and winter. Fresh herbs are great in recipes that cook a bit faster, or for using raw. I will often slow simmer soup or stew, then throw in fresh herbs a minute or two before serving. A good rule of thumb is to use 2 tablespoons of fresh mint for every teaspoon of dried mint.
Whether dried or fresh, mint is an herb you can keep on hand year-round. Here are some of my favorite ideas and recipes:
While in France, I visited a gorgeous herb garden surrounding an ancient chateau. Mint was growing wild and the fragrance was beyond belief! Once inside, I ordered mint tea. Imagine my delight when a stunning teacup filled with freshly chopped mint from the garden arrived alongside a carafe of piping hot water. Why not make an identical cup of fresh mint tea for yourself?
Mint and mint jelly is a favorite in Moroccan and other cuisines of the Middle East. Roast Leg of Lamb with Spring Onions and Mint is wonderful served with couscous. Lamb Patties with Mint and Rosemary is delectable served just as you would a great hamburger with fresh lettuce, tomato, onion,
Is it still chilly where you live? Enjoy this flavorful, spicy Carrot Bisque with Ginger and Mint.
Add fresh mint to beverages and smoothies. If you enjoy fresh juice, try a blend of green apple, parsley, carrot and mint.
Mint makes a wonderful garnish for green salads, grain salads and fruit salads. Tabouli, like this Tuna Tabouli, made with mint is perfect for a packed lunch. Bulgur with Peas and Mint is great on its own or as a side dish to lamb or chicken. Waldorf Salad with Honey-Yogurt Dressing and Fresh Mint makes a luscious breakfast, snack or dessert.
For company or a party, consider serving this gorgeous Rosemary and Mint Lamb Stir Fry with Apricot Couscous.
If you haven’t tried mint with cheese, you’ll be surprised at how amazing the combination can be! Buffalo Mozzarella with Balsamic Glazed Plums, Pine Nuts and Mint is sweet, savory and delicious.
Tip: Store a bunch of mint, stems down, in a glass of water for up to one week. Cover its leaves with a plastic bag, and change the water every couple of days.
What’s your favorite mint recipe? Do you prefer peppermint or spearmint? I’d love to know.