Edward is using mint in everything these days, and Neni (see The Greek Kitchen Ecosystem) uses it all the time, fresh in the summer, dried in the winter (it is a key ingredient in her feta cheese pastries). Both chefs use spearmint, which is milder than peppermint, and probably more useful for culinary purposes, though if you were going to make toothpaste or sweets, peppermint is the one. Indeed, when I used to visit my grandmother in Memphis, Tennessee, we’d have lunch at the Polo Club (a club sandwich and a bloody mary—well, I drank Arnold Palmers up until the age of 18) and we always ordered their specialty for desert, peppermint ice cream, a frozen custard flavored with peppermint extract and crushed peppermint candies. It was so pink and tasty, so southern. I’ve made it myself, with the old Christmas candy canes after the tree has come down.
Edward made various fish dishes with mint this past week: skate wing and cuttlefish cooked in a stew with asparagus, onions, garlic, white wine, and mint; seared duck breasts sliced and served room temperature in a salad with tomatoes, onions, and mint; broiled split bass with lemon, garlic, and mint; eggs poached over sautéed spinach (the spinach is just coming in) garnished with minced mint; grilled lamb chops with a bit of mint pesto; and pasta with mint pesto, which was just so odd I had to try it. Edward says he likes it better than basil pesto in this dish. I tend to agree: it’s pretty fabulous.
Pasta Mint Genovese
To make the Mint Pesto
2 bunches spearmint, about 2 cups packed
½ cup pignoli nuts
¼ cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt to taste
4 medium sized white potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups green beans cut in bite sized pieces
3/4 pound cut pasta like trenette or rigatoni
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Combine all of the ingredients for the mint pesto in a food processor and pulse to a semi-smooth puree.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over a medium high heat. Add the potatoes and cook for about 3 minutes, until they are partially cooked. Then add the pasta and beans and cook until the pasta is al dente.
Drain and toss with the mint pesto. Adjust the seasoning and garnish with the Parmesan.