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Mint Conditions

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Charleston Grill executive chef Michelle Weaver cools down with butter bean and mint bruschetta and cucumber and mint water. Photographs by Margaret Houston

July 13, 2011

Mint Conditions
Temper triple-digit heat indexes with the garden’s most refreshing herb

written by Anna Evans

“Mint has long served as an herb of hospitality. Ancient Grecians wiped the table with it before a meal, and Middle Easterners welcome guests with mint tea,” says Michelle Weaver, executive chef of Charleston Grill. And considering Charleston is known for its hospitality—not to mention hot-as-blazes summers—cooling mint makes a natural addition to steamy-season menus.

“People associate mint with desserts, but it really brightens savory dishes as well,” notes Weaver, who grows the herb in a container at home. In fact, it was her own backyard crop that inspired a simple appetizer: butter bean and mint bruschetta. “I was hosting a little post-beach grill-out and had butter beans on hand, so I puréed them with mint and threw flatbread on the grill. Everyone loved it!” Fresh pizza dough or a baguette can be subbed in for the flatbread, and you can make the butter bean mixture the day before. “Just add the herbs at the last minute so they don’t brown,” advises the chef.

What else to do with your mint crop? Put it to work in another Weaver secret weapon, cucumber and mint water. “I started making it to keep my kitchen guys hydrated, and now a lot of my friends keep pitchers of it in their fridges too,” she says. “Some combine it with vodka or gin!” The herb also makes “a nice surprise” on top of grilled fish or salads. “It’s a great way to add flavor without adding fat.”

For Weaver’s butter bean and mint bruschetta recipe, click here.

To learn to make her cucumber and mint water, click here.

For more recipes from local chefs, click here.