Vail Seaonal: Mint refreshes summertime recipes
VAIL, Colorado -Gardeners couldn’t be happier with all the rain in Colorado’s Vail Valley this year. If you haven’t started a garden, there’s still time to plant some perennial herbs, yield a harvest, and know they will return next year. Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow. It grows quickly with minimal sun, water fertilizer. In fact, mint can take over the garden if you let it. If you are a novice, start your mint in pots. Once you are confident with the way it grows, plant it into the garden with borders to keep it contained and it will come back year after year. Greek legend says that Pluto’s wife, Proserpina, in a jealous rage, transformed the lovely nymph Minthes into an ordinary plant. Pluto could not undo the spell but he was able to give the homely plant its delightful fragrance.Mint’s use in cooking is widely associated with Middle Eastern or African foods, and it is believed to have been common in Europe, coming to the Americas with the pilgrims. When cooking with mint, start off light – it can overpower a dish the same way it can invade a garden.Brian Harker, bar manager at Restaurant Avondale, says guests find mint refreshing as an ingredient in beverages. One of the favorites is a raspberry mojito, Brian’s variation of the drink Ernest Hemingway made famous at La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba.In savory recipes, mint compliments other vegetables and is great with lamb. Jeremy Kittlelson, Avondale’s executive chef, likes tabouleh for summer entertaining. “Make this salad a day ahead of serving to allow the flavors to mellow,” he says. “Try it as a side dish with grilled spring lamb.”
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves1/3 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary2 Tb. crushed garlic2 Tb. olive oil2 Tb. white wine1/2 tsp. salt1/2 tsp. black pepperCombine all ingredients with lamb and turn to coat well. Marinate at least 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator. Grill to desired doneness. (This marinade works well with chicken or pork, too).
1/2 cup bulgur wheat1 1/2 cups cold water4 Tb. fresh lemon juice, divided1 1/2 cups fresh parsley, chopped2 firm, ripe roma tomatoes, chopped1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped1/2 cup chopped red onion1 clove garlic, minced3 Tb. finely chopped mint2 Tb. olive oil1 tsp. salt1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper1/4 tsp. cuminCombine the bulgur, water, and 2 Tb. lemon juice and allow to soften for 2 hours. Drain bulgur in sieve, pressing out excess water. In a medium bowl, toss bulgur with all remaining ingredients. Chill at least 2 hours, taste and adjust seasonings. Serves 4
1 tsp. powdered sugarJuice from 1 lime4 mint leaves5 raspberries2 ounces White rum 2 ounces club soda1 sprig of mintPlace the mint leaves and raspberries into a tall glass. Squeeze the lime juice into the glass. Add the powdered sugar, then gently smash the mint and raspberries into the lime juice and sugar with a muddler. Add crushed ice, then add rum and stir, and top off with club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig. Serves 1. Sue Barham is the marketing director for Restaurant Avondale and Larkspur Restaurant. Avondale recently opened in The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon. The restaurant features a West Coast inspired, seasonal menu and the chefs use time-honored cooking methods, such as slow roasting and braising, to create simple dishes rich in flavor. The wine program focuses on small production wines to compliment the straightforward cuisine. For more information visit http://www.avondalerestaurant.com.
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