Friday, June 1, 2012

Cooking with mint from the garden...

Now that Summer is almost here... My garden is coming to life... first to appear (edible plant) is the mint...
 As I contemplated the eternal question "what's for dinner?" The soft green leaves of the mint looked so refreshing... I was inspired to make a meal around them...

Greek/ Mediterranean food is one of my favorites (Thai being the other)... and that style of food uses mint often... so after some digging in my pantry/ refrigerator to see what was on hand... here's the menu I came up with...
***Just a side note... My husband has a really bad gluten allergy(we're talking big welts and blisters) So I will tell you my GF substitutions...
First up on the menu... Tabouleh... This is a light and refreshing salad made traditionally with wheat bulgur, fresh mint, fresh parsley, and red onion... seasoned simply with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper... This is a cold dish so you want to cook your grains ahead of time, so it has  time to cool...
***Tabouleh Recipe***
3 cups of your pre cooked grain (I used quinoa)
1/2 cup fresh mint finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley finely chopped
1/2 cup of red onion finely chopped (I didn't have one, so I chopped up a shallot)
Juice from one whole lemon (I like it with a little more than that, but taste before adding more)
2 TBL spoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Then I usually mix in tomatoes and cucumber, but since I didn't want to drive to the store we went without tomatoes... and the cucumber was already spoken for... So, while it can be a more colorful salad...  it still tasted great!  You could also add any variety of bell pepper if you have any on hand... I also like to sprinkle a little of feta cheese on top, for a healthy light lunch... and if you use the quinoa...1 cup of cooked quinoa (185 g) contains 8.14 grams of protein!

Next on the menu... Kofte (Greek Burgers)  I found this super easy, and super yummy recipe on Cooking Light...  The meat is combined with fresh mint and an array of spices... seriously mouth watering!  The recipe also calls for chopped onions, bread crumbs, and egg... making it more like a meat loaf, so you can forgo the hamburger bun if you want to...

***Greek Burger Recipe***
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs (I used Trader Joe's brown rice bread)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons tomato paste (This is only half of a little can...  So I always just freeze the rest)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 pound lean ground round
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl, mix together thoroughly, and shape into patties.  You can pan fry them,  but I prefer them grilled... 

Lastly I came across this recipe over at Elsie Marley for Tzatziki... It combines Greek yogurt with cucumber and garlic, making it
a perfect companion for the burgers....I have made Tzatziki in the past, but after sitting it became to watery.  Well after reading through Elsie's recipe I can see where I went wrong... She shreds the cucumber, and then with a fist full she squeezes out the excess liquid... Brilliant!

6 inches of a cucumber, peeled, and shredded
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste
Grate your cucumber( I used a regular cheese grater)... grab by the hand full and squeeze over the sink...  place in a bowl with remaining ingredients... and your done...


And of course after all of this cooking... a drink spiked with a few mint leaves... is the perfect refresher... Yumm!  Dinner is served... Bon Appetit!!! ***Jennifer

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