Mint comes in a whole range of varieties that can be used for cooking, and when I first started a herb garden I found myself the proud owner of several kinds.
However, I gradually came to realise that spearmint was the one I used most, and I now grow only that. This is the one used for mint sauce and for cooking new potatoes. When it’s being chopped the kitchen is filled with the most fragrant aroma; and a couple of sprigs added to boiling new potatoes will permeate the room with an appetising smell too.
In the summer it is, like chives, a herb I use frequently. One unusual application I discovered in the Amalfi area of Italy is to place fresh mint leaves in the belly of fish before baking, grilling or frying them.
One word of warning about mint: never use it dried – it loses all its flavour and becomes very musty and lifeless.
Make the peppers ahead for an easy dish when entertaining. Stuffing vegetables with a mixture of rice, nuts and dried fruit adds plenty of flavour and a very Mediterranean element.
This Middle Eastern salad is so pretty and summery, and if you have mint in the garden that is growing as wild as a jungle – as mine does – it's a wonderful way to use some of it!
This recipe can be served warm, as an accompanying vegetable, or cold as part of a group of salads – in which case you still need to pour on the dressing while the potatoes are warm.
This recipe was given to me by chef Norbert Kostner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok when I visited the cookery school there. It's lovely served as a first course or included in a cold-buffet menu.
Perfect with lamb, this easy confit is a superb way to use up any gluts of redcurrants that may assail you during the summer!