Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mint, mint, mint

So, with the crazy heat of this rainless July, my garden is limping along, in most cases.  We're coaxing enough cucumbers from it to keep us happy, but the zucchini seems to be shutting down.  We're trying to baby our tomato plants to keep them going -- can't wait to see this month's water bill.

One plant that needs no help at all is our mint.  We have the mint planted in its own little confined area, because it spreads like crazy, but the plants were growing so big they were shading the beds on either side of it.  So on Sunday, I cut down some of the longer branches that were leaning into the tomatoes and the beans.  Here's what I cut:

I couldn't just throw it out, but a girl can only drink so many mojitos...  so what else could we do with it?  We had two ideas:

Mint pesto!  Did you know you could make pesto from mint leaves?  We make a huge batch with basil each fall, and freeze it in ice cube trays and then use it all year long in soup and pasta and stews, but as soon as we heard about mint pesto, we began imagining it in marinades for pork and lamb, or maybe in risotto with peas.  So we read a few recipes online (they varied SO widely) and then came up with this one.  It was a matter of starting with a few ingredients, and then tasting again and again as we added more things:

In the food processor:
*  a bunch of mint leaves.  A whole bunch.  Like, most of the bowl of the processor (I think ours is a 7 cup one).
*  a handful of almonds (we used roasted and salted, because that's all we had)
*  a drizzle of olive oil

We blended this, then started adding more:
* a few cloves of garlic
*  red pepper flakes
*  lemon juice
*  a little more olive oil
*  salt and pepper
*  a little water to help with the consistency

This made enough to fill one ice cube tray, plus a little left over for the fridge to try on something in the next few days.

We also tried one more experiment.  We're steeping mint leaves in a jar of white rum -- thinking that some mint-flavored rum might enhance the aforementioned mojitos.

This is what it looks like after two days:

We'll probably let it steep for a few weeks before we give it a go.  I'll be sure to let you know if it works!

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