Mint is a fabulous herb – expressive, yet versatile, cooling and also easy to cultivate (never plant in the ground though, otherwise it will take over your garden – always plant in a pot).
To cool down in the summer, mint tea is actually surprisingly effective (or simply pop a few sprigs in a jug of water and keep in the fridge).
Mint should not only be thought of as a dessert herb. We are familiar with mint and lamb (roast lamb with mint sauce, lamb and mint kebabs, etc.), but there are many more options – add chopped mint to guacamole, serve with watermelon and feta in a refreshing salad, try making pea and mint fritters, pork and mint also works well (especially in a cold leftover salad with barley or spelt), smokey grilled meats are crying out for a tangy mint dipping sauce and a pea and mint hummus is a great alternative to the plain version. Mint also works well with peas, broad beans and new potatoes drenched in lots of butter. Always add at the end, just before service, as the mint browns quickly.
Let’s not forget cocktails – mojito is a classic, mint julep another, but mint will work well in many sweet cocktails as it lightens them and brings a wonderfully refreshing note. Just muddle with a little sugar or fruit – this bruises the leaves and releases the minty oil which flavours your drink. Then mix with gin, rum or vodka, pour over ice and top with sparkling water, tonic or ginger beer.
Mint is still often seen adorning desserts – regardless of what the dessert actually is and whether the flavours complement each other! It does, however, work with many sweet dishes – mint and berries (try topping meringues with cream, strawberries and mint), mint and pineapple and, of course, mint and chocolate!