Robin Anish: Grow fresh mint for spring potato salad

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As many probably are, I am biting at the bit to get into the garden, but the spring has been awfully cool and damp with most days shrouded in a ceiling of heavy, gray clouds an atmosphere that is not very motivating nor a very good environment for the vegetation.

I am fighting the temptation to buy vegetable and flower plants but, in reality, it is still too early to set out plants and they are much better off in warm greenhouses for now. So, I will wait a bit longer. Even when it comes to gardening, patience is a virtue!

On a positive note, my fall-planted garlic is about two feet tall and brilliantly green. Some of the perennial herbs are leafing out and the mint has grown enough that I can get a small harvest now.

Mint is a perennial herb and well worth growing, even for just the fresh minty perfume drifting in the air as you walk by it. The fragrance is both calming and uplifting. Mint is very productive and can take over the garden, so growing it in a pot is a good way to contain it.

There are many varieties of mint, but I find spearmint to be the most versatile. It makes a great tea when crushed and steeped in hot water to help settle an upset stomach. Mint is a must in lemonade, ice tea and cocktails think of the classic mint julep served icy cold on the day of the Kentucky Derby. It's spirited flavor compliments fruits, vegetables, salads and sweets. Who doesn't love peppermint patties!

When the stems grow nice and tall, I cut them and add them to floral arrangements. They are a beautiful and fragrant addition to a bouquet of flowers.

Like two peas in a pod, mint and peas go hand in hand when part of this flavorful spring potato salad.

Spring potato salad

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds small red potatoes

3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

4 tablespoons safflower or canola oil (olive oil can be used but I find its flavor overpowers this particular salad combination)

1 cup cooked fresh baby peas or thawed frozen

1/3 cup fresh mint leaves finely sliced

2 or 3 scallions, finely sliced

DIRECTIONS:

Cover potatoes with cold salted water in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, until just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain potatoes, cool until able to handle and quarter or cut into cubes as desired.

Whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the oil until blended. Taste the dressing and adjust seasonings as desired. If too acidic for your taste, add a pinch or two of sugar or a little extra oil. If you prefer more tang, add a little extra vinegar or mustard. While potatoes are still a bit warm, combine with dressing, peas, mint and scallions and serve.


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