I guessed that by this time of the summer, the mint scattered along the side of the house would have flourished, perhaps even enough for a pesto. The crop started many years ago as a couple of tiny plants, one of regular mint and one of chocolate mint. The chocolate mint has never served a purpose per se, but I defy any of you to walk past a cute little pot of emerald green leaves that smells ever so slightly of an After Eight mint without wanting it in your garden.
At some point in the history of the garden, both plants escaped the pots, intermingled and took up their sprawling residence in the garden bed along the side of the house. It’s a little unruly, this part of the yard. Little chartered territory given a slightly more dangerous edge by the stump of the lemon tree that my dad had to chop down owing to its infestation of ominous looking black citrus bugs with their toxic venom. Definitely not for barefoot wanderings.
Be-sandaled and armed with a basket and scissors, I made my way around the Tulsi (holy basil) and picked my way among the weeds, past the stumpy citrus. Squeezing around the water heater, I was met with a lush mint crop large enough to supply a toothpaste factory. A pesto was surely in order. I tossed it with freekah (a type of cracked wheat) and with a few fresh vegetables, it made the freshest, most healthful lunch I’ve had in some time. Sweetcorn is a must I think but as far as other vegetables go, You can pretty much pick your favourites. I threw in carrot and snowpeas, but cherry tomatoes, blanched asparagus or broccoli, or pan-fried zucchini would work beautifully.
Freekah, Mint Pesto and Vegetable Bowl
3/4 cup dry Freekah
1 ear of corn
Other vegetables according to preference
Small handful sunflower seeds.
For the Mint Pesto:
1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup loosely packed baby spinach leaves
2 tbsp almond meal
1/2 hot chilli
Small garlic clove (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
A good squeeze of lemon juice
Salt to taste
Place Freekah on the stove with twice the amount of water and 1 tsp salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-25 mins until cooked. It should be tender but still a little firm and nutty. Drain, rinse and set aside.
At the same time, boil the peeled corn in salted water in another pan for about 10 min. Rub the corn with olive oil and char on an open flame or in the grill. With a knife, carefully cut the corn off the cob. Prep the other vegetables.
To make the pesto, blitz all the pesto ingredients (start with 1/2 tsp salt and add more to taste) in a food processor until a rough paste is formed. Taste and add salt or lemon juice as needed.
Toss the pesto through the freekah. Divide into 3 or 4 bowls. Top with corn and whatever vegetables you choose. Finally, sprinkle with sunflower seeds.