This is what growing herbs at my home is REALLY like…
Okay, not completely. When I took this photo just a few days ago I had already pulled out the weeds (in the areas surrounding the photo!) so it would look like a well-groomed garden. In fact, fresh mints of all varieties are some of my favorite ground cover in difficult areas. What we hate about them in other areas of the yard (they spread way too fast) is just what’s needed in certain circumstances where constant weeding just doesn’t happen.
Over the past several years, I’ve collected and planted lemon balm, a wide variety of mints, chives, sage and any other fast growing perennial herbs that I stopped to pick up at Uncle John’s. Each year, with my minimal TLC, the area looks better and better.
And here’s my favorite part: on my way out the back door in the morning, down the steps and before heading to the garage, I tweak off a leaf of a different herb—pinch it between my fingers—and inhale that delicious aroma that wakes me up and tells me that yes, it’s growing season. It’s my personal “pick me up”—try it!
Mint leaves vary in shape and texture from smooth or woolly to pointed or rounded to green or variegated. There are dozens of varieties of mint. Spearmint (my favorite to cook with) and peppermint are the most common, but you can pick from an assortment of other varieties as well. Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow. Just plunk it into moist ground and walk away!
Here’s my favorite minty recipe that will get you from spring to summer to fall…
INSALATA MISTA with MINT
Makes 4 side dish servings
5 cups torn mixed greens
½ cup halved yellow or red cherry tomatoes
3 Tablespoons snipped fresh mint
2 ounces thinly sliced fresh mozzarella
¼ cup Greek olives, pitted (optional)
2 Tablespoons dry white wine
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Gently toss together the mixed greens, tomato halves, mint and mozzarella in a large mixing bowl. If desired, add olives.
Stir together wine, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour dressing over salad mixture; toss gently. Serve immediately with fresh baguette slices