So you planted mint this year and now you know what “caution: may take over your garden” means. What do you do with it besides use it to freshen the garbage disposal? While I am unaware of any good recipes for “Stir-fried Mint,” I do have some ideas to share with you.
Mint is a wonderfully aromatic herb that originated in Asia and the Mediterranean region. Nutritionally, mint is reach in many vitamins and minerals. As with most herbs, mint provides few calories, only 48 per 100 grams or 7 tablespoons. Most of the calories are from carbohydrate sources, but mint does contain a small amount of protein and a little oil as well.
Mint also contributes 2 grams of dietary fiber, which is important for both intestinal and cardiovascular health. We need 25 grams of fiber per day. Mint is a great source of vitamin C and other carotenes which benefit the immune system and help repair tissue. Mint is also a good source of several essential minerals, including magnesium, copper, iron, potassium and calcium.
It has also been used medicinally to aid digestion and as a healing compound. Some individuals with irritable bowel syndrome claim mint helps relieve symptoms of gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort and diarrhea or constipation. Mint is also applied topically to the chest and nasal passageways to help break up mucus and improve breathing when you have a cold.
There are many varieties of mint, including the most popular – peppermint and spearmint. My favorite is lemon mint which is great in ice teas and other summer drinks. In general, the flavor of mint is sweet and cooling.
Here are some other fun ways to use up that mint:
- Try adding chopped mint to sauces for lean, red meats or to boiled vegetables including peas, green beans or new potatoes. It is a great addition to cucumber and tomato salad.
- Make “pesto” the same way you would using basil, but substitute mint. It’s a fantastic alternative, lighter and fresher-tasting than traditional basil-based pesto. And it stores in the freezer very well.
- Make simple syrup (3 or 2 parts water to 1 part sugar, depending on your taste); once the syrup has boiled for 5 minutes, throw in a handful of the mint leaves and steep them, off the heat, for an hour. The resultant syrup stores for weeks in the refrigerator, and can be used for mojitos (with more fresh mint leaves) or as an accompaniment to fresh strawberries.
- Dry some for mint tea, and drink it iced all summer and warm all winter.
- Make a very minty tabouli, heavy on the herbs (mint and parsley) – uhm I love this stuff!
- Make lemon mint spa water. Big pitcher of water, slice up a lemon, pinch of mint leaves, chill and enjoy.
- Try a salad with cold roasted beets, goat cheese, and toasted walnuts.
- Use it with fresh peas or pea soup.
- Try it with marinated baby artichokes with lemon.
- Make Thai basil chicken but with mint instead of basil.
As an added bonus, you get minty fresh breath. Now, to avoid becoming a victim of mint takeover next year, consider growing it in a pot!