Tag Archives: mint

Israeli Couscous Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Mint

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Spring is about two months early here in Southern Oregon.  The weather is starting to warm up, the daffodils and crocuses are blooming, and the deciduous trees are already starting to bud out. I love warm weather but when it comes too early in the year, it comes with a large cost. The lack of precipitation in the form of rain and the lack of a snow pack in the surrounding mountains means that we are in store for another very dry year here in the Rogue Valley.

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With the seemingly early spring, many of my perennial herbs in my garden are ready to pick. What really caught my eye is that my mint has already poked through the soil and is about 6 to 8 inches tall. Mint is one of my favorite herbs and one of the easiest to grow.  I just love the aroma, taste and versatility of freshly picked mint.  From my own personal experience, if you plant just one little mint plant, it will be more than happy to try to take over your entire yard. That’s why when I grow mint, I plant it in its very own pot where it is safely contained and unable to grow freely where ever it chooses.  Once mint is established in your garden, it’s difficult to eradicate without the use of herbicides.  And those who know me, know full well that I don’t use herbicides in my garden. Ever…

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I currently have 4 varieties of mint growing in my yard.  Peppermint, Lemon Balm, Chocolate Mint and Spearmint.  I’m planning to add Apple Mint and Pineapple Mint to my little mint collection in the near future.

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Fresh snipped spearmint and Italian flat leaf parsley from my garden was used in my Israeli Couscous Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Mint. For those who are unfamiliar with Israeli couscous, Israeli Couscous is a small semolina pasta also known as Pearl Couscous, Ptitim or Jerusalem Couscous. It’s mild in flavor and takes about 10 minutes to prepare. The little ball shape of Israeli Couscous makes it perfect for all sorts of soups, salads, main or side dishes. The next time you see Israeli couscous at your local grocery store or online, be sure to buy some.  It’s a quick cooking and very adaptable ingredient to have on hand in your kitchen pantry!  Enjoy!  Tessa

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup Roasted Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup roasted cherry tomatoes (see instructions below)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives (chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Begin by heating the olive oil in a 2 quart pan over medium high heat.  Add Israeli Couscous to the pan and stir constantly until lightly browned, about 4 1/2 minutes. Reduce heat and slowly add water.  Cook covered until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Add remaining ingredients, toss lightly, then taste and correct your seasonings.  Add the mixture to a serving bowl. Serve at room temperature or chilled.  Makes 8 – 1/2 cup servings.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a baking pan add 1 pint cherry tomatoes.  Toss lightly with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes collapse.  Remove from oven and let cool. Makes little over a cup. Use immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for a few days.

Roasted Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette: In a blender add the following ingredients and blend until smooth.  Makes about 1 cup.

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup roasted cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Use immediately or keep refrigerated in a tightly covered container for a few days.

Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

Not many things will put a smile on my face faster than the taste of chocolate.  Chocolate cake, chocolate bars, hot chocolate, hot mocha’s, chocolate sandwiches, chocolate cookies, chocolate pie, or straight up big chunks of dark chocolate, I love it all…  And what’s interesting about my love for chocolate, is that over the years I have begun to prefer an increasing higher cacao content in my chocolate choices.  Twenty years ago, the darkest chocolate I would have consumed would have been milk chocolate.  It’s funny how our tastes change over time.

My Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies are made with my favorite dark chocolate cookie dough recipe with little bits of Andes Mint chocolate pieces stirred in.  They’re easy to make, delicious and will satisfy nearly everyone’s chocolate craving.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup extra dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 sticks or 1 cup  butter (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp chocolate extract
  • 10 oz. package chocolate mint chips (I used Andes-Creme De Menthe)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with a silicone liner.  In a medium sized mixing bowl blend together the flour, extra dark cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  In a large mixing bowl with a mixer, cream the butter, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs and chocolate extract.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend well.  Fold in the mint chocolate chips.  Drop the dough using a teaspoon or a small cookie scoop onto the cookie sheets.  Bake for about 12 minutes or until done.  Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.  Store in a tightly covered container.   Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Melon, Prosciutto and Mint

Melon, Prosciutto and Mint

I love summer in Southern Oregon…  Fresh picked produce from our garden, local farmer’s markets and hot summer days.  Summer in my opinion, is three months of pure bliss.  Late this afternoon on my way home from work I decided to stop by my favorite food cooperative to check out the fresh produce.  While there, I picked up some organic boneless skinless chicken thighs, a bomber of a local micro brew and a sweet smelling cantaloupe for our dinner tonight.  And as a minor clarification, the bomber was for me :).

Fresh Mint.  The leaves have such a delicious aroma.  I snagged about 8 sprigs of it for my sliced Melon, Prosciutto and Mint.

Let me tell you a little tidbit of information about growing fresh mint.  What you need to know about mint is that you should never, ever, ever grow it outside of a pot or an enclosed space.  Why?  Because this pretty little unsuspecting plant, if not kept in check, will try to take over your yard.  Once established, mint is difficult to eradicate without the use of chemicals or herbicides.  If you have mint growing in your yard, you probably know what I am talking about…  I learned the hard way.  I now keep my mint in its very own pot.

Melon, Prosciutto and Mint is a wonderful little side dish on a hot summer day.  The sweetness of the melon, the saltiness of the prosciutto and the herbaceous aroma of the mint are a wonderful trio.  Not to mention, it’s delicious and easy to make.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cantaloupe melon
  • 4 oz. thin sliced prosciutto
  • 8 – 10 springs of mint

Begin by peeling, seeding and slicing your melon into 8 to 10 slices.  Wrap thin slices of prosciutto around the melon.  Garnish with sprigs of mint.  Place on platter and serve.

Note:  you can use honeydew melon or other sweet melon if you can’t find cantaloupe.