Mint sauce was a Greek sauce used for dipping bread in the beginning of the meal. This sauce was most probably used by Jews during the Second Temple period and soon after in the dipping ritual of the Passover Seder, when Matza was dipped into various sauces in the beginning of the meal. The Karpas ritual, dipping of the vegetable in salt water, in the medieval and modern Passover Seder is a vestige memory of these Greek sauces used in the Symposium meal.
This recipe for Mint Sauce is based on a description of such a sauce in Athenaeus' Deipnosophists Book 2, Chapter 66, d-e, quoted from Nicander of Colophon in his poem Theriaca (lines 875-876), from the 2nd century BCE.
Servings 4 people
- 15 g Mint Leaves Fresh
- 1 tsp Pickled Green Peppercorns
- 2 tsp Safflower
- 6 tbsp Olive Oil Extra Virgin
- 2 tbsp Wine Vinegar
Rip off leaves from about 6 mint branches and weigh them to be equal to 15 grams.
Crush mint leaves, pickled green peppercorns and safflower in a mortar. Alternatively this can be done in the food-processor as well.
Add olive oil and wine vinegar to the crushed spices. Let the mixture sit for 1 hour so that the olive oil and wine vinegar will absorb the flavor of the spices. Serve as a dip for bread.
The mint sauce can be stored as a condiment in a glass bottle sealed with a cork. It will last in the refrigerator for many weeks.
For a more authentic taste use the following ingredients:
- Wine vinegar from Spain, either Sherry or Sweet Moscatel, which have a stronger taste, or Sweet Pedro Ximenez vinegar, which has a milder taste. All of the above mentioned vinegars are made based on recipes closer to what the Romans would have used. A very good brand of Spanish wine vinegars is Los Villares, which can be purchased in Whole Foods Supermarkets throughout the US.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Greece, especially Crete. Just like wines, olive oil taste varies based on the variety of olives used and the region where they were grown. The Romans imported the majority of their olive oil from Greece, which was considered to be of the highest quality. A few different brands of Greek olive oil can be purchased in Whole Foods Supermarkets throughout the US.