How to: make the most of mint
Watermelon, fetta and mint salad. Photo - Steve Brown Photography/Gettyimages.com
The zingy freshness of mint smells of summer.
It adds life and lightness to salads, both sweet and savoury and is indispensable in any number of summer cocktails and mocktails.
The mint for sale in greengrocers is English spearmint, which has elongated smooth leaves and a clean flavour. The mint more commonly grown in home gardens is Moroccan spearmint, a close relative, but one whose flavour is not quite so good and whose rounder leaves are a little bit hairy. So why do we grow the slightly inferior version? Simply because it’s easier. English spearmint, which can be hard to find in nurseries, is susceptible to leaf-eating pests and sudden death. On the other hand Moroccan spearmint is virtually indestructible. Simply give it a shady spot and plenty of water and start harvesting.
Watermelon, fetta and mint salad
Chop watermelon into bite-sized chunks and arrange on a platter. Top with crumbled or cubed fetta cheese, plenty of fresh mint leaves, black olives and half rings of red onion that have been soaked in hot water for a few minutes to lessen their bite. Squeeze lime juice over and serve alongside barbecued meats.
Mint and lime fizz
Crush a few mint leaves with a quarter of lime, add a dash of sugar syrup* and top with soda water. (Of course, if you’d rather, you can skip the soda, and top with whisky instead for a twist on a mint julep!)
* a simple sugar syrup is a must-have in the fridge over summer to use in cocktails, mocktails, sorbets and granitas. Simply put a cup of water and of sugar in a small pan, bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar, then store in the fridge.
Couscous and mint salad with peas and lemon
Bring a cup of salted water to the boil, add half a cup of peas and bring back to the boil, then add a cup of couscous, stir with a fork, put the lid on and turn off the heat. Let rest for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork, add a handful of torn mint leaves, grate over the zest of a lemon, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
Text: Robin Powell