Fresh mint

It was foolish of me to plant mint in one of the raised beds in my vegetable garden years ago. Mint was born to be wild. It refuses to stay boxed in. Every summer it seems to discover a new escape route — digging underground to pop up in the middle of the marjoram patch or making a bold public grab for purple sage territory. And I have to pull it out by the roots — a thick leggy network that always puts up quite a fight. But the smell that fills the air — that burst of pure freshness — is almost worth the struggle in itself. And then there’s the happy dilemma of what to do with handfuls of fresh mint.

Luckily, we had a lot people to feed this weekend and had to double the recipe for watermelon, tomato, feta, and fresh mint salad. We drank gallons of Mint Sun Tea. And we made what’s become my favorite summer potato salad because of its unusual medley of tangy flavors: lemon, mint, and scallion. Here’s the recipe, followed by a poem that also features mint as a main ingredient.

Potato Salad with Mint and Lemon


  • 2 pounds small waxy white or yellow potatoes, roughly about the same size
  • Juice of 1 lemon, more for serving
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and light green parts, more for serving
  • ¼ cup torn mint leaves, more for serving
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, more for serving


  1. Place whole unpeeled potatoes in a large pot with enough salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until potatoes are just tender, 15 to 25 minutes depending upon size. Drain and cut potatoes into 1 1/2-inch chunks as soon as you can handle them.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together lemon juice, salt and olive oil.
  3. Transfer hot potatoes to a large bowl and toss with dressing, scallions, mint and black pepper. Let cool to room temperature, or refrigerate until ready to use. Just before serving, top with additional lemon juice, scallions, mint and black pepper.


Red Brocade

by Naomi Shihab Nye

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.

Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.

No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.

I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.

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19 Responses to Fresh mint

  1. Cheryl Sullivan says:

    Love this. Beautiful poem and a new one to me.

  2. Big bro says:

    Mint. Mint. Mint!!! Same in our garden, it takes over everything. Even in dry California. But oh what fun it is to rip it out, smell that smell, and drink that tea. And that was a lovely poem!

  3. Doris Van Ostenbridge says:

    I, too, planted mint (not contained in a pot) to keep the deer away from my black-eyed Susans and day lilies. So I do have some flowers this year, but oh my, how it does spread. Thank you for the recipe, I am going to try it. Enjoy your posts.

    • Liza says:

      Doris — I didn’t realize that it warded off deer. What a great tip! I’m going to start putting some of my mint to work! So good to hear from you.

  4. Phyllis Azar says:

    Thanks for this lovely post, and a great weekend. Love, =p.

  5. Kate Gyllen says:

    Thank you Liza for this wonderfully minty post.
    How lucky we are to have tasted all those mint infused items.
    The poem reminds me what an ancient spice mint is.

  6. Lorraine Tinger says:

    Great poem!
    The recipe sounds wonderful!

  7. Jackie Leopold says:

    And how do you make Mint Sun Tea?

    • Liza says:

      Take a big glass jar with a lid — I use a quart wide-mouth Ball pickle jar — put in 5 or 6 tea bags and a few springs of fresh mint, fill it with warm tap water, and then leave it out in the sun for an hour or two. Presto! Hope you’re having a great summer, Jackie!

  8. Amy K White says:

    I feel the very same way about mint, now taking over the plot outside my kitchen door….and wild in another field nearby.
    Not a wild soul however in smell or effect on lamb chops, peas or potatoes….
    Nice poem too!
    Thanks, Amy White

  9. Judy Buck says:

    Great, all of it! Can’t want to try potato salad and the poem reminds me (Wow! ) of my (young and naive, admittedly) sense of the Middle East, many years ago. Thank you for all. When I get my hands on mint I also use a little in zucchini, eggplant, and chick peas.
    See you one day?

  10. Rebecca says:

    Just have to ask….Are you Elizabeth Bennett that wrote Changes of Heart. Loved that book and looked for others by the same author years later, but it was like she dropped off the face of the earth.

    • Liza says:

      Rebecca: Yes, I did write Changes of Heart a million years ago under Elizabeth Bennett. I’m so touched you wrote to say that you loved it; it’s a favorite of mine, as well. More recently. I’ve been writing under my maiden name Liza Gyllenhaal — four novels that are listed under the “my novels” tab on this site. They’re not romances, but I hope you might try one and let me know what you think. Thanks for writing! Liza

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