Mint is one of the herbs that encapsulates the summer season. Fresh, clean and invigorating it cleanses the palate and lightens dishes, leaving a pleasant cool taste in ones mouth.
The common name of most plants from the genus menthe, it has been cultivated for millennia. It was brought to England by the Romans who used to, amongst other things, pickle it in vinegar. Its medicinal and culinary uses are spread though centuries of cookbooks and it features strongly in English and Middle Eastern food. In Greek mythology it is said that Prosperina, consort of the god Pluto, grew jealous of his attentions to the nymph Mintha and turned her into the plant, hence its name.
The dishes below capture the delights of this refreshing herb. A treat for our end of summer days.
MINT SOUP WITH CILANTRO AND CRÈME FRAICHE
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Large onion – finely chopped
2 large English cucumbers – peeled and diced
2 cups chicken stock
1 small bunch cilantro – de-stemmed
1 bunch mint – de-stemmed and finely chopped
¼ cup yogurt
¼ cup crème fraiche
salt and pepper
Note: If you are making this earlier in the day, proceed through step 2. Add in the crème fraiche mixture only one hour before serving, the mint will turn black otherwise.
PEPPER CRUSTED ROASTED HALIBUT WITH A MINT SAUCE
2 cups of panko (Japanese style bread crumbs)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
4 tablespoons pepper, coarsely ground
4 tablespoons grated lemon zest
4 tablespoons lemon oil
8 halibut filets, approximately 1- inch thick
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
4 cups loosely packed mint leaves
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 cloves garlic
add enough olive oil to form a smooth paste
This is delicious served with steamed green beans or sautéed snap peas.