I think of grocery store herb plant purchases as one use wonders. It seems like most of the plants I bring home die after a week or so because they just can’t adjust to their new life. I’m good at gardening, just usually not so good at keeping those little grocery store purchases alive! I should have known buying a mint plant would be different. Mint is…vigorous when planted outside, and has proved to be just as vigorous inside. I love mint, but I’m used to using it in beverage and desserts. The profusion of mint at home has forced me to branch out and create actual food items that use it, and this fetal mint Israeli couscous salad is one of my favorite creations so far. The flavor is perfect for summer and it’s surprisingly easy to make.
Wouldn’t this be a fun side instead of the usual pasta salad at a summer cookout or picnic? Couscous is, after all, very small pasta!
I learned the “interactive way” that you need to let the couscous cool down for at least 10-15 minutes, preferably in the fridge, before adding the mint. If you throw the mint in right away, residual heat will cook it and it will turn dark green and limp. No bueno! The finished dish is much prettier if you chiffonade the mint, which is a fancy term for cutting it into ribbons. Just check below the recipe for a quick tutorial on how to do this!
- 1 medium shallot, sliced thin
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
- 1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ¾ cup feta (or to taste!)
- ½ cup mint, chiffonade with some whole leaves received for garnish
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet on low heat. Add the shallots and sauté them, stirring occasionally, until they are somewhat reduced and lightly caramelized. This should take about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the the cup of couscous according to the package's directions, substituting the chicken broth for water.
- Once the couscous has cooked, stir in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and vinegar, then allow it to cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Stir in the feta and chiffonade mint, cover tightly, and chill the salad until you're ready to serve it. Allowing it to chill for about two hours really lets the flavors meld nicely, but you can serve it sooner if you're hungry!
“Chiffonade” may sound like an intimidating term, but it’s easy to accomplish. Just stack your mint leaves, roll them up, and then cut through the roll to form neat little strips. Check out the small photo gallery below for visuals!
I can’t stop thinking about new and adventurous ways to use all this mint – the more I cut the plant back, the hardier it becomes! I guess it’s a good thing Papi Chulo has leave coming up – maybe we can use some of the mint in mojitos. What’s your favorite way to use mint?