Labor Day has come and gone, and summer is almost over. That means that the peak season for mint is about to pass us by too. After visiting my grandmother’s house this weekend—and raiding her garden, which mint has practically taken over—I decided to take advantage of the current abundance of one of my favorite herbs.
Of course, I had to use some of my mint stash for fresh mojitos—the refreshing cocktail made from rum, mint, lime, sugar, and soda water. If made properly, it is hands-down one of the best drinks ever.
For the rest of my mint, I wanted to stay away from desserts, in which mint is commonly used, and try something new. I settled on lemony-mint rice.
Rice laced with mint is a Greek dish that has many of the same flavors as dolmas, but without the grape leaves. The ingredients are not overpowering, which is perfect for a delicate type of rice like basmati.
At first, the mint in the rice seemed rather strange to me. Almost a dessert rice but not quite. But after a while, when the flavors came together—of course, I didn’t let the rice sit long enough for that to happen before I started chowing down—it turned more to the savory side. The garlic, oil, salt, and pepper stood up to the mint and complemented it well.
2 cups water
1 cup basmati rice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup fresh mint, chopped
Grated zest of one lemon
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
•In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the rice, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
•In a sauté pan, heat one tablespoonful of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
•Pour the rice into a medium mixing bowl. Add the cooked onion and garlic, mint, lemon zest, lemon juice, and remaining oil and mix gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 4 servings