Do you have a patch of mint in your garden? Or perhaps a friend or neighbor does? At least in North America, it is harvest time and this is the time of year to take advantage of low cost seasonal produce. Today, I am sharing some delicious recipes that take advantage of the refreshing properties of mint, along with some produce that could be readily available in your area this time of year. If you can’t get some mint from your own herb garden, don’t worry! You can likely get a bundle from a local farmer’s market or grocery store (any kind will do) that will be more than enough to make most, if not all, of the recipes I am sharing today.
Chilled Cantaloupe Soup
This is a soup, but it is so tasty and naturally sweet that I sometimes serve it as a dessert. Recently, I was inspired to make it when I was checking out the rack of reduced produce in our local low-cost grocery store. There were some ripe cantaloupes there for half price. I felt a promising-looking one….just right! It was beautifully ripe and ready for soup. At half price, it was only CA$0.98.
No recipe is really required for this soup. I use a whole cantaloupe to make two-three servings. Just cut the cantaloupe in half and remove the seeds. Take out all of the flesh (I use a large spoon for this). Puree the cantaloupe using your method of choice: this could be a traditional blender or immersion blender, or a food processor. I used my trusty off-grid hand-crank food processor that I bought at a local thrift store. It doesn’t do a perfect smooth job…that is fine; a few chunks are ok.
Once you have the puree, add some plain yoghurt. I would say you can use your preference for texture and flavor here. I added my homemade kefir, probably around half the amount of the cantaloupe puree. You might try that and then taste to see if you prefer more. Then, I finely minced some fresh mint leaves, around a tablespoon after mincing, and added that in. I believe the original recipe (which I lost years ago) called for some honey to be drizzled on top when served. You could also put a nice mint leaf on top for presentation. Voila! A refreshing fruity soup!
Mediterranean Zucchini Salad
If you still have some mint left over, then you might enjoy this tasty salad. This time of year, zucchinis are plentiful in local gardens. We had an unbelievable amount of rain in early spring after I had planted and it killed my poor zucchini plants. I am surprised how much I have missed them. Oh, that surprise of looking in the morning and ARGHHH another GIANT zucchini has appeared. Where did it come from? This year, I have had to buy my zucchinis, and wait (sigh) for next year to grow my own again.
This salad is also quite simple. It is based on a recipe from The Single Vegan Cookbook. However, you need neither be single nor vegan to enjoy this salad! If you have your own giant zucchini, then just cut out the middle part that has the seeds and use the white flesh. I made mine with about a pound of zucchini (two regular sized zucchinis) and it made three small servings of the salad.
Cut the flesh into thick matchsticks, around a couple inches long and maybe half an inch wide. Then, blanch these or steam them for about three minutes. Don’t forget them, or they will be mushy. You want them to still be firm. I ran some cold water on mine right after steaming to stop the cooking process. Then, allow them to drain and dry off while you prepare the dressing.
The dressing is quite simple. Mix together a couple tablespoons of olive oil, a couple teaspoons of lemon juice, and some salt and pepper, if you like.
Once again, get mincing your mint…this time don’t be shy….two tablespoons of minced mint go into this salad. You can put your zucchini into a bowl and then add the dressing and mint. It works best if you then chill it before serving.
Do you still have some mint left over? Then you can enjoy some mint tea. Depending on the temperature where you are living, you might like this cold or hot. For the simplest hot mint tea, just take a few mint leaves, rub or distress them slightly and place them in a mug. Just add hot water and steep for about five minutes.
If you prefer an iced tea, you can steep the tea as above (even a larger amount in a pot or bowl) and then chill it in the fridge. It is likely better to cool the hot tea down before putting it in the fridge. You can allow it to cool on its own or put it in an icebath or cold water bath to speed up the process. I generally don’t add sweetener to my iced teas. If you want to add some honey, for example, it is best to add this while the tea is still hot and then chill it.
Do you still have some mint left over? Lucky you! You can dry your mint so you can enjoy some minty freshness over the coming months.
While you can find directions online for drying herbs like mint in the oven and even the microwave , I am old school and only dry my herbs by hanging them.
I always keep any twist ties that I get, especially long ones. As well, I always have a roll of twine around. So, whatever bundle of herbs I have, I just tie the ends with twine or the twist tie, leaving a loop to hang them. Where can you hang them? In my tiny house, I drove small finishing nails into the trim above my north facing windows (that wouldn’t get a lot of direct sunshine). Each bundle of herbs could then hang on one of these nails until dry.
I don’t have any trim installed yet in my eco-cabin. Admittedly, it will be a long long time before I have trim around my windows as there are so many tasks that take priority over that: this fall it is getting my steel siding on before winter. I hope! I hope! So, I have been drying various herbs in my eco-cabin in random places. Right now, I have a small bundle of mint hung on my armoire handle, calendula and lavender flowers drying on a piece of newspaper on top of my wall-mounted propane furnace (that is shut off). As well, I was drying my German Chamomile flowers by hanging them on a random piece of lumber leaning up against the wall. You get the picture! Whatever works for you!
After I can see that the herb is completely dry, I place them either in a labeled and dated paper bag and put it in my herb cupboard, or in a similarly labeled mason jar.
If you have never dried your own herbs before, I think you will really enjoy the feeling of making a nice cup of tea from your own dried mint!
Are you interested in trying any of these recipe/ideas to use up mint and seasonal produce? If you do, please let us know how it turned out! Do you have any other mint-seasonal produce combinations that work for you? If yes, please share them in the comments below!