By Dana Gordon
Mint, a member of the Lamiaceae or Labiatae family, is as easy to grow as it is to incorporate into all sorts of recipes. This cold hardy perennial is great for beginners and can be grown in a window or even under cover to extend the growing season. It's fragrant scent and beautiful leaves are an attractive addition to any garden. Make sure to give mint a wide berth when planting in early spring as it can easily choke off other plants. It can grow in all sorts of conditions but usually prefers slightly moist soil with some shade. An easy way to keep mint under control is to surround it with metal or plastic about a foot into the ground. This will not completely stop the spread of mint, but it will help to keep it under control.
Used in teas to aid in digestion and ailments of the digestive track, facial sprays to sooth, calm and refresh, and of course in the kitchen in all manner of foods and drinks such as Mint Julep, an additive to plain iced tea for a cool summer Compost in a Bowltreat and as a flavor enhancer to herbal teas. And while it is sometimes shied away from due to the fact that it can very easily take over one's garden, once it is there, what else can you do with it?
Well, make pesto, of course!
Pesto is an easy and refreshing way to add big flavor and that ever loved garden freshness to all manner of dishes ranging from pasta to poultry. A simple sauce to concoct, basil has long been the pesto herb of choice. But like the tired dishes that pesto is used to step up, sometimes the pesto itself needs to step up. While our beloved basil can never be replaced as a favorite in either garden or kitchen, there is something to be said about the revitalizing change that a mintalicious pesto can bring to the table.
It is amazing the difference mint can make in dishes that use pesto. Use it on plain pasta, or as a dip for garden fresh vegetables, a cool spread on warm bread right out of the oven or as a garnish for a baked or broiled chicken, quail or duck. Replace mayonnaise with a mint pesto on sandwiches for a mouth watering change of pace or even to replace herbal dipping oil for breads.
Long has mint and lamb been paired together, too. A nice change of pace for plain ole burgers is to work a fresh mint pesto into ground lamb for a flavor upgrade to this all American favorite. Make into patties and grill like a regular burger for a change of pace worthy of a casual dinner party. Add garden fresh vegetables to the grill and brush with this sauce for an unusual kick. Use the pesto as a garnish for roasted lamb and even for grilled favorites like chicken, lamb chops, sea food, pork and fish. Just brush it on right after your main course of choice comes off the grill. Mint Julep
The next time you are staring at your dinner menu wondering what you can do to have a pleasant change, consider the humble mint sprig for a wondrous change of events!
Country farmer in childhood turned urban gardener in adulthood with emphasis on indoor gardening, Dana Gordon, who is a wife and mother of two, has been gardening and preserving food since childhood with the guidance and knowledge of three generations.
Visit her blog at: http://alotgreener.blogspot.com/
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