Getting fresh

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 July, 2012, 12:00am

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The word 'mint' has many meanings and can refer to: an institution that manufactures cash; the pristine condition of something; a palate-cleansing hard candy; and a sickly sweet chocolate-covered fondant eaten after a meal. The herb, however, is wonderfully refreshing and has countless uses in cuisine - and can also be found in perfumes, room deodorisers and aromatherapy, where it is said to refresh the mind, relax muscles, soothe headaches and upset stomachs, and make people more alert.

Most varieties of mint (the most common of which seem to be peppermint and spearmint) can be grown year-round indoors - the plant grows like a weed, and needs to be cut back often before it flowers. The best way to make use of an over-abundance of fresh mint is to infuse it in hot water for a soothing drink, which can be sweetened with sugar or honey. Mint and lamb is a classic pairing, although I've never been able to make my palate appreciate the slippery, garish green jelly that's so popular in places that specialise in British cuisine. Instead, I prefer an uncooked sauce that preserves the cooling effect of fresh mint.

For an accompaniment to lamb, cut into chiffonade a large quantity of fresh mint then mix it with fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and a small quantity of anchovy puree (just enough to make the sauce more complex, but not enough that you can detect its fishi-ness). A perfect addition to a Sunday roast.