Time to Plant Mint

IMG_1607Mint is one of the herbs I just don’t live without.  It’s an herb that can take over the garden, however, so it’s wise to plant it in a pot, then sink the pot into the garden to keep the underground stems from spreading.  Both spearmint and peppermint are valuable herbs, attracting beneficial insects to the garden and repelling the pest insects that interfere with our pleasure outdoors.  A combination of mint, thyme, and artemesia tied into a bundle repels fleas, and mint alone repels flies and ants.

Both spearmint and peppermint are digestive aids, and peppermint infused into hot water and taken as a tea settles indigestion in minutes.  Peppermint is more strongly flavored than spearmint, and is more medicinal.  But spearmint is wonderful to use in salads from now through the summer.  Just tear a few leaves each of spearmint, fresh basil, and cilantro (if you like it) right into the salad bowl, tossing with lettuces and other ingredients, plus a simple vinaigrette.  The herbs give a tremendous boost of flavor to an otherwise mundane salad.  Try dill, parsley, chives or garlic chives, also.

Add mint to a pitcher of water, let stand for 20 minutes, and serve over ice.  Or add to a pitcher of brewed tea, let stand 20 minutes, then serve over ice.

I add fresh mint and basil leaves, left whole, to summer salad rolls made with rice paper, steamed shrimp, cucumber, and maybe a pineapple spear and lettuce leaf for a refreshing light lunch or supper.  A dipping sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar, a pinch of dried red pepper flakes and thinly sliced green onion makes the perfect condiment.Making rice paper spring rolls

Soften the rice paper in warm water for about 15 seconds.  Place on a damp kitchen towel with all your chosen ingredients ready to go.  I used what I had on hand: a Belgian endive leaf, steamed shrimp, a couple of red bell pepper strips, fresh mint, avocado slices, and cucumber half moons.  Fold up the bottom over the first layer and start the roll, laying in the rest of the ingredients as you go, and rolling tightly.  Just before you finish, fold the sides over the filling, roll up to the end and press to seal.  Cut in half on the diagonal, stand on a plate and mix your dipping sauce: soy sauce, rice vinegar, pinch dried red pepper flakes, and very thinly sliced green onion.  Spoon it into each half, and enjoy, making sure to have plenty of napkins on hand to catch the delicious drips!IMG_1613

Bon appetit!  And by the way, two isn’t enough!