Mint is an herb that can add flavor to a variety of dishes, both savory and sweet. It gives a clean, fresh taste to food and drinks and can also serve as a garnish.
A few sprigs of mint in hot or iced tea can enhance flavor. It's also often paired with fruit juice, including melon, lemon, and tropical fruit juices. Adding just a few leaves of mint to freshly made or store bought juice can help flavor if its allowed to infuse for a few minutes prior to serving. Alternately, glasses can be garnished with a sprig of mint. Mint ice cubes can be made by placing a mint leaf in an ice cube tray, and then filling the tray with water and then freezing.
Mint leaves are essential in many alcohol-based drinks, like the mint julep. Chocolate liqueurs are also an excellent place to use a mint garnish or mint ice cubes.
Chocolate and mint are natural partners. Brownies and cookies can easily become mint chocolate wonders with a little peppermint extract. Fruit salads topped with whipped cream can also incorporate fresh mint. Frosting is another place to use mint and it will work especially well with white and yellow cakes, and especially angel food cake. Also, consider peppermint meringues as a cool and low-fat dessert. Mint extract can be added to homemade ice cream. Crushed peppermint sticks can also be added to ice cream for a sparkling and clean finish.
Another common way to use mint in dessert cooking is by making mint sorbet. This can be used to cleanse the palate in between courses at an elaborate meal. Adding a bit more sugar can further enhance the flavor.
Vegetables, Grain, and Fruit
Mint can also work well in fresh, green salads. A little mint and peanuts will give a salad a Southeast Asian appeal. The herb is also commonly used in Middle Eastern food — to garnish hummus, flavor tabbouleh, or enhance couscous.
Cooked veggies like peas, corn and carrots can all be infused with mint flavor. A minute prior to ending cooking, one or two leaves can be added to the steamed vegetables. The leaves should be removed before serving because the texture is not generally considered to be pleasant but the flavor will remain.
Mint marinades, chutneys and mint flavored butter can be used to enhance the flavor of meats. Lamb is the most common red meat paired with the herb. Some seafood, like lobster and scallops, and fish including sole, goes well with mint chutneys.
Mint plays a key role in Vietnamese cuisine. Many of the “make your own” rolls served in Vietnamese restaurants include thin rice pancakes, strips or balls of cooked meat, and a beautiful pile of fresh herbs and dipping sauce to add together for an Asian style burrito. Thai and Chinese egg rolls may also include mint as well as coriander. Alternatively these rolls may be paired with a mint-flavored dipping sauce. A tiny amount of chopped mint can garnish scrambled eggs, omelets, or egg foo yung.
Mint is also very attractive as part of a flower arrangement, easily adding height to the arrangement. Its fresh smell makes it very appealing on a dinner table and can easily be grown at home.