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Other Names: Calamint: Common calamint; mountain balm. Large-flowered calamint: Beautiful mint; calament à grandes fleurs (French); mint savory; showy calamint; showy savory. Lesser calamint: Field balm; nepitella (Italian).

Calamint (Calamintha sylvatica_) is an herb with a strong aromatic fragrance somewhere between mint and marjoram that’s characteristic of Roman cooking. This herb is used when stewing zucchini, artichokes, and other vegetables in olive oil and garlic. Some southern Italian cheeses are flavored with calamint, which is gathered in the wild in Tuscany, Sicily, and Basilicata. Niebita (Calamintha sp.), another type of calamint with attractive light lavender flowers, is indispensable for Italian bean and mushroom dishes. Lesser calamint (_C. nepeta), an herb with a more pungent taste than calamint, grows all over Tuscany and is used extensively in Tuscan cooking; it’s especially delicious cooked with wild mushrooms. Large-flowered calamint (C. grandiflora) has a pleasing minty fragrance and is used as a seasoning or for tea.

Season: Calamint is in season in summer; the blossoms appear in midsummer.

Purchase and Avoid: Calamint will be available in its plant form from herb growers.

Serving Suggestions: Brown wild mushrooms with garlic and calamint and use to top grilled fillet of beef. Add calamint to rabbit dishes. Add calamint to the boiling water for cooking artichokes.

Food Affinities: Beef, eggplant, fresh pasta, garlic, goat, mushroom, rabbit, shrimp, tomato, white wine, zucchini.

from Quirk Books: