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Tommy C. Simmons, An enthusiastic cook
Photographer: Tommy C. Simmons

If mint had a theme song, it would be “Don’t Fence Me In.” Mint is a notorious wanderer. The plant sends out underground runners and in no time at all spreads across a garden.

An herb grower has to stay diligent in keeping mint trimmed and herded if he or she wants to enjoy using fresh mint in beverages, appetizers, and salads. Mint left to wander becomes woody and can lose some of its fragrance and pungency, the two qualities that make it a popular addition to summer foods.

The refreshing, cooling taste of mint recommends its use during the summer. It’s easy to appreciate why mint has been a traditional seasoning to food and drink in warm weather regions of the world. Mint can also serve as a breath freshener and digestif.

For those who want the pleasure of using fresh mint in their cooking and don’t have time to manage it in a garden, try growing mint in containers. When kept trimmed, mint makes an attractive pot plant. Pam Guth in Plano, Texas grows mint in an attractive container placed on an outdoor patio table. The mint receives filtered light throughout the day and thrives. Guth said the variety she grows was identified as “Mojito Mint” on its plant label at the nursery.
Here are a couple of variations of tomato and mint salads. These salads are easy to make and combine two of summer’s favorite recipe ingredients, juicy tomatoes, and zesty mint.

Recipe is from “Hip Kosher: 175 Easy-to-Prepare Recipes for Today’s Kosher Cooks” by Ronnie Fein.
Home Kitchen-Tested Recipe
Serves 4.
2 large tomatoes, chopped or sliced
4 chopped green onions
½ cup minced fresh mint
3 tbls. extra virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste (use a coarse grain salt, if possible)

  1. Place the tomatoes, green onions, mint, olive oil, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Toss and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes and serve.

Testing note: If desired you can serve the Minted Tomatoes atop a mixture of salad greens. This stretches the salad to serve more guests.

Recipe is from Mary Guarisco and featured in “Food Focus Robusto Italiano! Cuisine With Character” booklet produced by The Advocate newspaper in 1991.
Home Kitchen-Tested Recipe
Serves 6.
5 firm, ripe tomatoes, peeled and cut up
½ cup chopped onion
3 pods garlic, pressed
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbls. fresh lemon juice
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh mint
Salt and black pepper, to taste

  1. Peel and cut up tomatoes and place in a bowl. Mix all the other ingredients together and pour over tomatoes.
  2. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Stir to blend all ingredients and serve.

Note on recipe from Mary Guarisco: Most of the older generation Italians in South Louisiana always keep mint growing around the house. It may be in the garden, flower bed or just near the back step. This recipe sounds almost too simple to be outstanding, but if all fresh ingredients are used, along with very good olive oil, it simply can’t be beat.

Posted July 12, 2013

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