Just One: Mint
Our celebration of a single delicious, versatile ingredient. This month: keeping thing fresh with mint
Why it's a winner

Though the leafy green herb adds a refreshing flavor to many food and drinks and acts as a breath freshener, mint also has a long history of being used medicinally to treat stomach aches and chest pains and as a remedy for the common cold. To put it simply, not only is this ingredient great for cooking, but it offers a wide range of other benefits, making it a champion among herbs.

About this article

  • This article was originally published in the June 2017 issue of 400-The Life, a publication of the Forsyth County News. To read the entire magazine, click here.
What’s in a name?

The origin of the herb’s English name, ‘mint,’ descends from the Latin word mentha, which originated from the Greek word minthe – a nymph who, in Greek mythology, was transformed into a mint plant after trying to secede Hades,  the Greek god of the underworld.

Misconceptions

While many often associate wintergreen with mint, the plants, which belong to the Gaultheriagenus, are not true mints, which belong to the genus Mentha. Types Mint comes in more than 15 varieties, though the most common types are peppermint, spearmint and apple mint. While all are edible, they do not all taste or smell the same, prompting some to be used more than others. 

Fun fact

When used as an essential oil, mint has a calming effect on a person and is soothing.

Just One Cookbook — recipes that highlight our ingredient of the month

Spicy Chicken Legs and Cauliflower Couscous with Cherries, Pistachios and Mint

Ingredients:

¼ cup rice vinegar

¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Mint

2 tbsp. Sriracha

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tbsp. honey

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

4 whole skin-on chicken legs, about 8 oz. each

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets

25 cherries, pitted and finely chopped

¼ cup freshly chopped mint, plus more for garnish

¼ cup chopped toasted pistachios

Zest of 1 lemon

Lemon wedges

Freshly ground black pepper


Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, orange juice, Sriracha, garlic, soy sauce, honey, crushed red pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil until combined. Add chicken legs; let marinate 15 minutes.
  2. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse cauliflower florets until they reach the size of couscous.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet and add cauliflower couscous. Cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes, then season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°. Heat a lightly oiled grill pan over medium-high heat, then remove chicken from marinade and season with salt and pepper. Grill chicken 4 minutes per side to get a nice char on the outside, then place pan in oven to finish cooking for 10 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°. Let rest 5 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, stir together cauliflower couscous, cherries, mint, pistachios, lemon zest and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with mint.
  6. Serve chicken legs with couscous and lemon wedges.

*By Anna Watson Carl/ TheYellowTable.com


Watermelon-Mint Martini

Ingredients:

6 mint leaves

1 tbsp. Simple syrup (see recipe below)

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 cup watermelon cubes

½ cup vodka


Simple syrup:

1 cup granulated sugar 

1 cup water


Directions:

  1. To make simple syrup: Combine granulated sugar with water in a glass jar; seal tightly. Shake until dissolved. Refrigerate until needed.
  2. Place mint leaves, simple syrup and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker; muddle the mint, pressing and twisting to release its oils. Add watermelon cubes and muddle until they're juiced.
  3. Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously until very cold. Strain into 2 chilled martini glasses. Garnish with mint sprigs and serve.

*By Eduardo Chavez/Featured in O, The Oprah Magazine.