Celebrating seasonal ingredients: the mighty mint leaf

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Spring is upon us, and with it arrives an array of beautiful produce that we all ought to be implementing into our own diets. Not only are there profound environmental benefits of eating seasonally, you can also save so much money from simply buying in-season foods! So, read on if you would like to consider yourself a feisty eco-warrior, hoping to cook up a storm and save some pennies in the process.

My personal favourite as we enter June is the humble mint leaf. Now, I can sense a few heads shaking. ‘What’s so special about a simple herb?’ you may ask. Well, this is no ordinary old herb. It has been the focus of countless studies in recent years, often focusing on its wonderful digestion-aiding and anti-inflammatory properties.

If you’re not inclined to spend time slaving away in the kitchen, but still want to test out some of the aforementioned benefits for yourself, try mixing a few leaves into a cold glass of water in the morning (the results are even better if you had one too many the night before!). Or, if you find yourself slumped on the sofa after inhaling a kebab, revive yourself and make a soothing tea with mint leaves and hot water. For those who wish to experiment with this seasonal herb, now that exams have left the building, I have some recipes to try out. Don’t say I don’t treat you.

Seasonal fruit and veg are not only delicious (and cheaper) but they are also an incredibly low-effort way of helping out Mother Earth

Cucumber Mint Cooler

Let’s start with a cocktail to get you in the state where you’ll be needing some fresh mint water. June means light evenings and outdoor drinking with friends — what could be more perfect than my cucumber mint cooler? Now this is a showstopper.

You’ll need:

  • Vodka
  • Sparkling water
  • Limes
  • Fresh ginger
  • Small cucumber
  • Fresh mint: of course, the star of the show

As far as quantities are concerned, I say measure with your heart (responsibly).

First, in a large glass take some thinly sliced cucumber, thinly sliced ginger (go easy on this, it’s strong), a few wedges of lime, a couple sprigs of mint leaves and lastly, the vodka. Now muddle that concoction until the aromas begin to tease you, and then I recommend transferring the mixture to a lovely jug of ice — to share with friends, not to drink on your own, please. Top off with some sparkling water to your liking (or lemonade would be a nice alternative!). If you decide to opt out of the lemonade, please do add some honey or simple syrup to the muddling process, as it will really enhance the flavour of the fresh mint. Finally, garnish with some beautiful, seasonal, sliced cucumbers, more mint, and perhaps even lime wedges, if you are that way inclined.

There you go! Enjoy responsibly. For those of you who don’t wish to drink, you could easily omit the vodka for a refreshing mocktail. You can drink your mint water the next morning, completely clear-headed.

Pea and Mint Soup

If you’re not convinced, how about an easy recipe for a delicious pea and mint soup? As peas are also in season, this extra summery soup will wow your friends at the next slightly pretentious dinner party you attend. This recipe does require a blender of some sort, but once you have one, you’ll never look back.

You will need:

  • Diced onion
  • Crushed garlic
  • Frozen peas
  • Vegetable stock (or whatever stock you have)
  • Small bunch of fresh mint leaves
  • Crème fraîche or dairy free cream to garnish at the end.

Sauté the onion in a bit of olive oil. As it starts to soften, add the garlic and let it cook for a couple of minutes, then add the peas and the stock. As soon as bubbles begin to rise, lower the heat and let it simmer for five minutes or so. Let it cool for a few minutes before blending. I add the mint just before I purée. Then garnish with a lovely bit of cream. Delicious — a super easy and fresh spring dish.

Whether you’re looking forward to spending this post-exam time in the kitchen, or drinking with your mates in the sun, I hope I have managed to inspire you to shop with an awareness of seasonal produce. Seasonal fruit and veg are not only delicious (and cheaper) but they are also an incredibly low-effort way of helping out Mother Earth. Try it out for yourself: you’re not limited to mint!

Image credit: Tata Zaremba via Unsplash

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