Have You Planned Your Herb Garden Yet? Highlighting Corn, Lima Bean and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Salad, by Beverly Hicks Burch

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Even after the last cruel spat of wickedly cold weather that crept our way after the first official day of Spring, it appears all things green and growing are determined to do their thing. And, that would be GROW!

As a result my mind as turned toward thoughts of “what kind of “kitchen garden” can I grow this year?” Because of my health and disabilities I have done a lot of container gardening in the past few seasons. I’ve been pleased with the results.

This past weekend, Tall & Handsome and I began to turn our thoughts to outdoor projects. That includes a kitchen garden and herb garden. For him it also involves a tiller. He’s mantra is: “You be the brains and I’ll be the brawn.” So, he’s willing to expand beyond container gardening.

So, what herbs did I grow last year?

Well, I had some perfectly lovely mint. I love mint. I use it for baby English peas, tea and I’m told it’s excellent in mojitos. Last years I grew mint in a basket on the deck and also in the ground. To my delight, I already have usable mint! A big plus…mint, like many herbs is remarkably easy to grow.

Mint after the rain

Wonderful mint from my container garden –it’s especially lovely after the rain.

Next, I grew basil, one of my all time favorite herbs. I’ve used dried basil for years. I still do, but nothing compares to the taste of fresh basil! Last year I grew sweet basil and cinnamon basil. I have grown three or four kinds at once, including purple basil and a small leaf basil that is very fragrant. I use fresh basil in so many recipes, but one recipe that I think really highlights it well is an amazing Corn and Lima Bean Salad I adapted from a Southern Living recipe from several years ago.

Cinnamon Basil

Cinnamon Basil has a distinctive and wonderful taste

My Greek oregano has already sprouted new growth and is so wonderful and fragrant. It’s perfect in marinades, Greek, Italian and even Mexican recipes.

Greek oregano

Greek Oregano is especially versatile

My rosemary remained evergreen all year and we’ve even used it for roasted turkey. I’ve really grown to appreciate the taste of rosemary.

So, what will I add this year?

I’ll probably grow more cinnamon basil and maybe some purple basil if I can find it. I’m hoping to find some thyme and a staple we’ve begun to use more and more…cilantro. We may throw in some parsley and anything else that strikes our fancy.

I also plan on growing tomatoes. What Southern garden is absent of fresh tomatoes?! Is there anything better than a tomato right off the vine with a little salt and pepper? For me, since I married my southwestern cowboy, a garden staple is jalapenos and pablano chilies. I hope to add some bell pepper, squash and garlic would be wonderful!

Today I’m highlighting a recipe from some time back. It’s the aforementioned Corn, Lima Bean and Roasted Bell Pepper Salad. Today’s recipe is slightly different than the version I posted before because I have increased the quantities to carry to our small group meeting. One of my best friends fell in love with this salad after I prepared it for dinner one evening when she was over. She likes to make it and carry it to potlucks, where she receives rave reviews. I love to keep a bowl in the fridge during summer. It make a great light, healthy lunch or a wonderful side dish.

What you need for the corn lima bean salad

Gather up the ingredients for the salad…if it’s in season I use fresh basil out of my garden.

Corn, Lima Bean and Roasted Bell Pepper Salad

6 cups fresh corn kernels

2 cups baby lima beans (if using frozen, thaw first)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped roasted red bell pepper

Juice of one fresh lemon

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Dried crushed pepper flakes to taste (I used a little over 1/4 teaspoon)

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, cut into thins strips (you can also adjust this to taste)

1. Cut corn from the cob.

cut the corn from the cob

2. Sauté the corn in a large skillet with the olive oil on medium high heat. Sauté for 3 minutes or until corn is tender crunchy.

3. Add thawed baby lima beans and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes.

5. Add fresh lemon juice, roasted red bell pepper, salt, dried crushed pepper flakes and fresh basil. Toss until mixed well.

6. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

Enjoy!!

corn and lima bean salad finished

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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