Minstantaneous. I know. It’s not a word. But it should be! You know what I’m talking abut. It’s that moment when you look in your garden and realize that the mint has instantaneously taken over. No more sage, rosemary or thyme. Well, they are still there, just buried underneath the mint. I know that everyone says that mint is invasive, but with a little plucking at the beginning of the growing season, you’ll have it under control in no time.
I love mint so much because it signifies spring. The lavender spiky flowers that it produces, call all of the neighborhood hummingbirds, butterflies and bumble bees to your garden. You see for me, I have a split personality. The person who I think I am in the spring and summer, and the grumpier version of myself that takes over in the fall and winter. I am a sunshine gal, and the lack of it can turn my usually sunny disposition into a disposition of despair. So when I see the mint growing “minstantaneously”, I know that warmer weather and spring have officially returned!
Mint or mentha (as it’s officially called) is a culinary herb but is also commonly used as a medicinal herb. Mint has been widely used for digestive issues, nausea, muscle aches, congestion and yes…bad breath! I love to put mint in my ice water, tea and salad.
Mint also pairs well in many savory dishes. I use mint in my Peruvian dishes. On dish in particular is Cau Cau. Cau Cau is traditionally made in Peru with tripe (eeuw). Since my recipe is obviously vegan, I renamed the dish with a kinder and gentler name: No Cow Cow. No Cow Cow is a delicious stew made with seitan, potatoes and traditional Peruvian spices. The stew is served over a bed of rice and steamed greens. For extra nutrition and color, you can top the dish with microgreens or sunflower sprouts. The addition of fresh mint adds a subtle coolness to the Peruvian spices. I hope you enjoy your No Cow Cow, your mint and your spring!
NO COW COW (CAU CAU)
1 ½ cups seitan, sliced into strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced into crescents
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 ½ tablespoons aji amarillo paste (available at some natural food stores or online)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups of vegan no chicken broth (you can also substitute a light colored vegetable broth)
3 medium yellow skinned potatoes, diced
1/3 cup fresh mint
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the seitan in olive oil until browned on both sides.
Remove from pan and set aside. Add onion and olive oil to the same pan and cook until the onion is translucent.
Add garlic, aji amarillo paste, cumin, turmeric and sea salt. Sauté for a minute or two. Add broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add seitan strips and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over rice and steamed greens. Garnish with a dollop of vegan sour cream or vegan aioli.
About the Author: Vicki Cosio is a nationally ranked athlete, 15 year vegan and vegan cookbook author of Peruvegan: Easy, Cheesy, Cozy & Creamy Vegan Peruvian Recipes.