This citrus mint salad is a refreshing and colorful way to use mint! Optional chia seeds for added crunch and nutrients.
At first, buying fresh herbs can seem frustrating because they don't last very long, and recipes often don't call for a very large amount. So here you are, trying to be all legit in your kitchen with your fresh herbs, just like the recipe called for, and wait a minute--does that say two tablespoons of chopped basil? Two? Tablespoons? That's it? So you totally roll with it and buy some fresh herbs at the store--they're kind of pricey, but the flavor will be worth it. Next thing you know, you have wilty, brown (and often moldy) leaves hanging out in your fridge. How did this happen?! Wasted fresh herbs + mold = sad.
Then you might get a bright idea: "I know! I'll start an herb garden." This would work perfectly for anyone with the space and the sunlight. You can pick off leaves as you need them, and the entire plant won't die on you. All you have to do is water them, give them a sunny window and some TLC, and voilà. You're set. Not to mention the additional benefits: they smell amazing, and they release oxygen in your environment... which makes you feel like you're breathing in fresh, healthy air (because you are!).
But, oh HAI reality, I don't have a porch, or anywhere to place herbs where they won't wither away in my stuffy apartment. Open my window? I would say that's a good suggestion, but I live in [insert city subjected to cold weather/possible polar vortex here; e.g. Madison, Wisconsin]. Enough said.
I felt this way about herbs when I first started cooking, so I always stuck with dried herbs. Don't get me wrong--dried herbs have their place in cooking--I use them almost every day, and in a pinch, they will totally work as a substitute for fresh herbs in most cases. Just remember to use less of them, since they're more concentrated versions of the real thing. BUT. I do maintain that there is nothing that adds flavor quite like fresh herbs, and I try to incorporate them into my cooking weekly. Moreover, now that I know many ways to use them... including eating them plain by the handful (what? They're good!), they never go to waste. Here are some of my favorite ways to use herbs:
- This one's a given: in my cooking. They make amazing soups, additions to salads, flavoring for chicken, fish, or anything at all.
- In pesto. That's right! Any kind of herb can go into pesto. Basil is one of the most popular, but you can get so creative with pesto using other herbs, cheeses, nuts/seeds, and green things.
- To flavor water. I love keeping a pitcher of chilled water in my fridge with fresh herbs and fruit. It's like having spa water at your house... FANCY. Some of my favorite combinations are: cucumbers + basil, mint + lime, berries + mint or basil. If your herbs are seeing their last days, just throw them into some water and let it sit for a few hours. Bonus: it makes it really easy to stay hydrated!
- In smoothies. Yup. I don't like a ton of them in there... a little goes a long way. But sometimes throwing a little bit of basil in a peach or berry-based smoothie adds complexity and flavor, plus health benefits. Have you tried fresh mint in a vanilla or chocolate shake? Maybe you made a healthy shamrock shake for St. Patty's Day?
- Salsas, marinades, dressings and dips.
- Garnishes, for when I'm feeling fancy.
With all of these ways to use up fresh herbs, I always find ways to use them up. I usually pick up one per week and use it for multiple recipes. If I feel like it's about to go bad... like I said--Plain. By the handful. It happens. If I had a dehydrator, perhaps I would just dry them instead 🙂
This summer, I hope to be sharing an employee garden plot where I work, and I imagine we will plant fresh basil, parsley, and cilantro. YUMMMM. Last year we planted these herbs, and our cilantro "bolted", meaning the dry and hot weather caused it to grow rapidly, until it dried up completely and produced seeds (= coriander!). The herb itself becomes bitter when that happens, but we harvested the coriander seeds so we could still use it. Someday I'll have to get a coffee grinder so I can grind those babies up and use them. For now, they're in an envelope. Whatever works, I guess!
But this salad, though. I just love it. Mint is such a complementary and refreshing addition to fruit. It would really taste great with any fruit, so if you're looking for a way to change up your fruit salad game, mint would certainly do the trick. Halfway through photographing, I got the idea that chia seeds would add some variety in texture, plus added health benefits (Omega-3's, fiber, protein)! So I sprinkled some on... Feel free to try it if you have some on hand!
Citrus Mint Salad
This citrus mint salad is a refreshing way to change up your fruit salad game. Chia seeds add texture and extra Omega-3's!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 3-4 1x
- Category: Fruit Salad
- 2 whole grapefruits
- 2 whole oranges
- A few sprigs of fresh mint
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- Peel, slice and segment oranges and grapefruit. Combine into a large bowl.
- Remove mint leaves from sprigs of mint and roughly chop. Add to bowl with oranges and grapefruit.
- Sprinkle on chia seeds.
- Chill in fridge for 30 minutes or longer before serving.
"Cook time" just means chilling time. If ingredients are already well-chilled, you can skip this step.
Now go make some awesome fruit salad!