Monday, June 9, 2008
Buying fresh mint + thunderstorm = recipes. And food porn. And goodness. (Although the thunderstorm does get in the way of proper lighting, so apologies for any slight decrease in photo quality. I think I managed to get a few good ones despite.)
I believe all the essentials have been said, so let the food post begin!
Quinoa and Pea Salad with Mint and Lemon
This salad has enough substance that you can eat it as a main dish, but is cool and refreshing to help you stay feeling light in the summer heat. This recipe makes 4-6 main servings, or 8-10 as a side.
1 cup quinoa
water (enough to cook quinoa, at least 2 cups)
1 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint
1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper
Cook the quinoa by boiling it in the water until they look like miniature Saturns (little balls with rings around them)--drain well and put back in the pot, stirring with a fork to help fluff it up as it dries out.
Take the frozen peas and add it in to the quinoa once the quinoa is dry (but still warm)--this will defrost the peas and gently soften them without actually cooking them. Add in the mint and squeeze the lemon half till you feel you've gotten 1/2 to 2/3 of the juice in it. (So the juice of 1/4 to 1/3 of a lemon) This is, obviously, to taste. Sprinkle in a little bit of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix and allow to completely cool before serving. (If you leave out the salt to make this low sodium, the recipe won't suffer much. :))
What's more refreshing than strawberies, mint, and lemon on a hot summers day? Makes for four generous servings (or 8 smaller servings).
1.5 lb strawberries
1.5 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 to 3 tbsp dried blueberries
1/2 a lemon
1 tsp sweetener
Wash and slice the strawberries in half. (If they are really huge you can further cut them, but they really don't have to be even in size. What is optimal is to have them all of a size that can gracefully be put into the mouth and eaten.) Mix the mint, blueberries and sweetener with the juice of 1/3 to 1/2 of the lemon half and the zest of the lemon half. (So the juice of 1/6 to 1/4 of a lemon.) Mix well and allow to sit for the flavors to combine for at least 1/2 hour, preferably saran wrapped and refridgerated.
In the winter, as snow blizzards outside and the wind whistles at your windows you cuddle up with a warm cup of chocolate milk. Well now you can have that comfort year long--in the summer, as the rain pours outside and the thunder cracks in the distance you can cuddle up with a warm cup of mint milk.
This tea is warm and comforting. The almond milk thickens as it is heated and is infused with the soothing taste of mint. The mint is not overpowering but can be tasted clearly in the milk, and leaves you with a refreshing yet cozy aftertaste. The recipe makes for one serving.
Mint tea bag.
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp sweetener
a hint of nutmeg.*
Put everything into a pot and put the heat onto medium-low. Gently stir constantly to avoid scalding the milk. Stir for approximately 5 minutes; the milk sould be hot and a light matcha green color (like that of green tea ice cream). Serve hot.
*(No more than a scrape or two with your knife--on that note: always freshly grate nutmeg. I hated nutmeg until I started grating my own; now its the spice I will put in almost anything.)
Mint tea aids in digestion, helps clear colds, and is just darn right comforting. How could I make a post on mint and leave out my go-to tea when my tummy is hurting or I'm feeling sick? No recipe, just get a mint teabag, boil the water, and steep. Alternatively; put the mint teabag into lukewarm water and allow it to sit for an hour before drinking, or even put it in cool water and allow it to sit overnight. I have been told that the cold/overnight method results in the best tea (plus it is then considered raw, I believe.)
BONUS: Freezing Mint
If you're anything like me, an entire bunch of herbs bought at the grocery store is more than you could ever use in one recipe. So here's how I freeze the extra. I wash it and allow it to dry, or pat it dry. I take all the good leaves off the stem and spread them on a plate; make sure you don't have clumps of leaves and also try to avoid piling them too high. 2-3 high should be the maximum (you could even freeze them in a single layer, should you have enough freezer space). Once they're frozen you can put them in a ziplock bag; ready to be used. They will be defrosted enough to chop within minutes when you want to use them, assuming your freezer isn't deathly cold.
This method works well for any herb that is generally used raw, with only a rough chop. It works for cooking herbs too, however an easier method exists for those; wash them, pick what you would use of them, chop/dice/grind, and freeze them in an ice cube tray; half tablespoon per cube (or less, depending how many people you generally cook for. I usually cook for four.) Once frozen you can put these cubes into a ziplock bag, and when your recipe calls for a tablespoon of said herb, just grab two cubes (or the appropriate amount) and dump them in like that; no need to defrost.