How to Cook With Mint Leaves

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Do not think of mint leaves as only for a garnish or decoration. These bright green leaves add a refreshing flavor to desserts, entrees and sides. While you may know of peppermint and spearmint, have you heard of lemon mint or chocolate mint? With more than 20 varieties of mint, each with its own special flavor, you can experiment with different types until you find a personal favorite for cooking. The versatility of mint leaves allows you to work them into meals all day from breakfast through post-dinner dessert.

  • Submerge the base of the mint stems in a glass with 1 inch of water in the bottom. This will keep your mint leaves fresh to use in a variety of meals. Cover the entire glass with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation and refrigerate for up to one week.

  • Chop fresh mint leaves to add to tabbouleh, salads, vegetables, omelets or scrambled eggs just before serving.

  • Pair chopped mint with cooked and chilled peas, asparagus, eggplant, corn, potatoes, or baby carrots. Serve whole vegetables with mint as a salad, or puree the vegetables and mint for a refreshing spring soup.

  • Roll whole mint leaves into a lamb roast with salt and oil to create a flavor foil for the rich lamb meat. Request butterfly-cut lamb and lay out the cut on a surface. Place a mint, salt and oil mixture on top of the lamb and roll. Secure with butcher's twine and bake for a different take on lamb and mint jelly.

  • Add finely chopped or crushed mint to any chocolate dessert for a classic chocolate mint flavor. Leftover whole mint leaves can be used for garnish.

Tips & Warnings

  • When buying mint leaves, choose brightly colored samples. Avoid using limp leaves or those with bruising and discoloration.
  • Use fresh mint leaves for best results and the fullest flavor, or use dried mint by reducing the amount by a third. For instance, if a recipe requires 1 tbsp of fresh mint substitute 1/3 tbsp of dried mint leaves.

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