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Have you ever done something really stupid? Not just silly. I mean stupid.

And then done it again. And again. For twenty friggin’ times?

And not even known it, until suddenly the light bulb comes on?

Suzi and I built our Catskill house in the fall of 2001, right in the midst of 9/11 aftermath. We built the house and immediately began with flower beds. One of them is devoted to mint and has been expanded over the years. We now have over fifty square feet of mint.

Mint juleps. Mint mojitos. Mint margaritas.

But with fall, the mint leaves sag and, when that frost hits, they blacken and disappear until the next May. I have fifty square feet of blackness.

I was looking this week for an eggplant recipe — one I never found — but I did see an accompaniment: mint chutney. Now, why, I asked myself, have I for over 20 years not bothered to make a last harvest of mint and make mint chutney. How wasteful? How stupid?

My thanks to Melissa Clark for this recipe which is bright and minty and powerful. And easy. She says to mix it up in a blender and you can, but I think a mini food processor would be easier. I still have 49 square feet of mint leaves, so I will be making more before darkness descends to the earth.

Use this chutney on lamb, on chicken, on pork. Chops or roast or thighs. They’ll all benefit from the snappy tones of mint [and cilantro]. It’s a green recipe for sure.

This is not quite the original recipe. I’m using pickled jalapenos instead of raw. And the simple syrup at the end is a possible penance for that sin.

Mint Chutney

Yield: about 1 cup


  • 1 cup packed mint leaves [packed firmly, not actually mashed together]
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves [packed firmly]
  • 5-10 wedges of pickles jalapeno, depending on your passion for heat, and I prefer the sweet pickled jalapenos, not the pure fire variety
  • 1 scallion cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Juice of ½ lemon, plus more as needed
  • Pinch of salt, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup


Put all the ingredients in a blender, or, better that mini-food processor. Blend until uniform in texture, about 1-2 minutes. If using a blender, you’ll need to stop a few times and scrap the chutney down for true mixing — which is why the food processor is probably better.

Taste and, if necessary, add some more water or lemon juice or salt.

If there is too much heat from the jalapenos, then cool it all off with the simple syrup.

Store in a glass container in your fridge. For how long? I’m going to find out. You’ve got a couple of weeks for sure.

Source: Melissa Clark, The New York Times