Refresh your summer cooking with versatile mint - GulfToday

Refresh your summer cooking with versatile mint

Food 22

Perk up your summer with this minty grilled chicken salad. TNS

At this point in the summer, my cooking needs refreshing. Good thing the mint bursts its boundaries in the herb garden.

There’s a reason most of us enjoy mint in our toothpaste and chewing gum. It cleans the palate in a way no other ingredient can.

There are many varieties of mint — smooth-leaved, crinkly, variegated, fuzzy, shiny. The square stems identify the plants as members of the mint family. Peppermint and spearmint are my favorites for all-purpose kitchen companions. We plant them as borders around the garden and in pots on the deck for easy harvesting. The plants thrive in sun and shade, and they aren’t fussy about soil quality or frequent watering. Starter plants are inexpensive. Even this deep into summer, it’s not too late to get them in the ground; you’ll have mint sprigs well into the fall.

Chopped and added to soft butter, the spread refreshes morning toast or pancakes and dinner’s steamed vegetables and grilled fish. Baked sweet potatoes topped with a sesame mint butter prove so delicious they are often all we have for dinner after a summer’s walk.

If you make no other homemade salad dressing this summer, try the avocado mint version. Refreshing, creamy and tangy, the mixture tastes great on hearty green salads — even kale — as well as tomato slices and watermelon chunks or as a veggie dip. I dollop it on grilled fish and sliced eggplant. Try it instead of mayonnaise for a fantastic chicken or egg salad.

If nothing else, add it to a pitcher of sun tea. Then sit on the deck and thank your lucky stars for such a refreshing way to cool off.

Tribune News Service