Friday, June 6, 2008

mint according to martha and me

This growing season I have multiple varieties of each herb: basil-sweet, purple, and thai; thyme-orange and creeping; mint-spearmint and orange. Using these in recipes can be exciting and also a little disappointing if you a try a combination that doesn't work. I did some looking to domestic maven Martha Stewart to see what I could learn about using orange mint:

“There are a lot of wonderful savory and sweet recipes that include mint. It gets its enticing aroma from menthol, which is oil in the leaf. You can find these easy-to-grow mint varieties at nurseries or farmers' markets. Mint should be planted in sun or partial shade with high moisture. It grows vigorously, so be careful where you plant it. You can cut it frequently to keep it in control.

Spearmint is most commonly used in cooking for many recipes, including lamb, vegetables, and of course, mint juleps and mojitos.

A hybrid of spearmint and water mint, peppermint is stronger than spearmint and is often used in tea and desserts.

Apple Mint
With fuzzy leaves, apple mint smells like Granny Smith apples, and is used to make tea or as a garnish, or can be added to salads.

Pineapple Mint

A variety of apple mint, pineapple mint has crinkled leaves with creamy edges, and can be used ornamentally in the garden.

Orange Mint
With mild, citrus flavored leaves, orange mint is good to use as a garnish or in salsas and salads because of its mild flavor.

Chocolate Mint

Strong like peppermint with a chocolate overtone, chocolate mint is good to use for desserts.”

Some recipes:

Spicy Pineapple-and-Mint Salsa

Makes about 3 cups; serves 6

* 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
* 1 or 2 serrano chiles, seeded for less heat, if desired, and very thinly sliced
* 1 small garlic clove, minced
* 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)
* 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)
* 1 pineapple, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
* 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves - WHY NOT ORANGE MINT!


1. In a medium bowl, combine the onion, chiles, garlic, orange and lime juices, and pineapple. Add oil; stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour. Just before serving, add mint; toss to combine.

Orange-Mint Iced Tea

6 tea bags
2 tablespoons sugar
12 sprigs of fresh mint, divided - ORANGE MINT!
1 1/4 cups orange juice
juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
1/2 lemon, sliced
1/2 orange, seeded and sliced

Make a strong tea with two pints of boiling water and the six tea bags. Add two tablespoons of sugar and six sprigs of the mint and infuse for 15 minutes.

Remove tea bags and allow to cool; remove mint.

Around our house, this naturally sweet summer salad has many lives. Freshly made, it complements a summer barbecue of grilled chicken and corn on the cob. When there are leftovers, we tuck them inside a warm pita bread pocket sandwich. Either way, it's divine.

Rach got me thinking about making more summer salads so I found this one that could, you guessed it, also use the orange mint variety instead.

Orange Mint Tabbouleh
Summertime treats by Sara Perry

For the dressing

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

For the salad

1 cup bulgur, rinsed and drained
2 cups boiling water
1 orange
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup minced fresh mint leaves --REPLACE WITH ORANGE MINT!
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
4 green onions, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup mandarin orange segments
1/3 cup coarsely chopped nuts such as hazelnuts or cashews
Tiny mint sprigs for garnish

1.To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, olive oil, sugar, cinnamon, and cumin. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the bulgur and boiling water. Let stand until the bulgur is light and fluffy, 30 to 45 minutes. Drain through a sieve and discard the water. Place the bulgur and 2 tablespoons dressing in another bowl and toss well. Let cool to room temperature.

3.Using a zester, remove the zest from the orange. Mince the zest and set aside. Cut the orange in half, squeeze enough juice to measure 3 tablespoons and place in a small glass bowl. Stir in the raisins and place in a microwave for 15 seconds to warm the juice. Remove from the microwave and let soak for 15 minutes.

4.Add the raisins and juice, orange zest, mint, parsley, green onions, celery, and remaining dressing to the bulgur mixture. Toss well and season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the mandarin oranges and chopped nuts and garnish with mint. Serve at room temperature.
Note: If you decide to chill the tabbouleh or serve it at a later time, the bulgur will absorb more of the dressing and the salad will need freshening. To do so, add 1 tablespoon orange juice or additional dressing and toss well.

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