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Fresh herbs (Recipe: fava bean salad) {vegan, gluten-free}

Fresh herbs

Would you call me a food snob?

I drink Fresca, sing the praises of Miracle Whip, and make a great chicken salad from a boxed rice mix. My pantry harbors no-boil lasagne noodles, curry powder, broccoli slaw and discos -- all convenience foods.

Yet, from April to October, I cook only with fresh herbs, from my summer pantry (also known as my garden), and no other herbs will do.


Eight years ago, I shoved a few herbs into a small strip of soil in front of my log house in Rhode Island. I could step out the kitchen door and, with my black thumbs, pinch a few leaves of this, or a few fronds of that. I became an herb snob practically overnight.

Lemon thyme

In the years since my first tentative gardening efforts, Ted and I have given more and more real estate to herbs. Today, I can harvest more than a dozen varieties -- and, until the deer beat me to it, the fruit of one Roma tomato plant, a few fraise de boise strawberries, and bushels of pears.


Perennial herbs form the backbone of the garden. Thyme and lemon thyme (which I never used until I began to grow it myself), chives and garlic chives, sage, and a bit of horseradish root that was a gift from a friend. Anise hyssop that, like the spearmint and chocolate mint, grows wherever it wants to grow, and lavender to mix into herbes d'Provence, though I use it more for baking and the occasional batch of lemon iced tea.

Greek oregano

There's a bit of a United Nations feel to the herb garden. Greek and Italian oregano -- like the countries they come from, so similar and yet so different. French tarragon (pungent) and Russian tarragon (flavorless, mismarked as French and planted in error, but it seems heartless to let it go). Genovese and Thai basil, which could be distant cousins.

Chives and cilantro

In addition to the basils, more annuals round out the garden: rosemary, cilantro, bronze fennel. Flat-leaf parsley that tastes so good we use it as the main attraction, in tabbouleh and even in omelets.


I didn't plant lemongrass this year, and, as always, my dill failed to thrive. But for my investment of less than $20 in annuals, and a perennial or two to replace things that didn't survive the winter, I have vibrant, flavorful herbs all summer. And, by freezing some and drying others, I'll have herbs all winter, too.


Garlic chive blossom

You might not be a food snob now, but growing and cooking with fresh herbs just might turn you into one. Like me.

Fava bean salad

Fava bean salad

If you're lucky enough to live near a Portuguese community, you'll find canned or frozen fava beans in many grocery stores or ethnic markets. If you can find fresh favas at your farmers' market, that's even better, though more labor-intensive. Or, substitute canned black-eyed peas, chickpeas or lima beans, to your taste. Serves 4-6, as a side dish.


1 lb cooked fava beans, canned or frozen (or another type of bean), rinsed and drained
1 scallion, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Juice of one lemon
A bit of red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar, to taste
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


Combine beans, scallion, bell pepper and parsley in a mixing bowl. In a small jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine remaining ingredients, and shake well. Pour the dressing over the bean mixture, and stir gently to incorporate all of the ingredients. Serve at room temperature or cold.

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Couscous salad with herbs
Zucchini frittata
Basil pesto
Brick-grilled chicken thighs

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


No, that's not construed as snobbery. That is simply enjoying nature's bounty at your back door and enjoying the fruits (or in this case herbs) of your labour. There is - and never will be, I don't think - anything to beat fresh. In summer I have salad greens planted in pots outside my back door, and nothing beats stepping outside and harvesting leaves off each plant to make my own salad. I also have fruit trees that I love to collect and fruit from, and there is always plenty to share. I get sheer, unadulterated pleasure from these simple things. Is that snobbery? Of course not.

when you first started growing herbs was it difficult to tell between the herbs and the weeds?

thanks for the supermarket tip.....its amazing what one learns here everyday

I've never considered my herb garden a pantry although we use it constantly in summer.

There is nothing like fresh herbs.

Lydia, beautiful herbs.

I want to find some hyssop, but I never see it here. I finally got 2 little bay laurel plants going in pots, so I'm really excited about having some fresh bay leaves!

Thanks for the link!

Your herb garden is so wonderful, Lydia. I wanted to have a herb garden in my balcony. But I have to give up that thought. Living in the city is not fun with all the fume from busy transport.

Wow what a beautiful house and yard and a truly amazing herb garden! My husband dreams of living like this! Wonderful fava bean salad. And being a food snob is in the eye of the beholder.

Your garden looks better every year. I had no luck this year. My basil is pitiful, my roma tomatoes look strange and the squirrels broke my other tomato plant. OH well, there's always next year.

That is why I love summer, fresh herbs just really make things wonderful!

Beautiful herb garden, so nice to have fresh herbs.

I agree completely, there is nothing quite like cooking with fresh herbs! Now you have me wondering if I could ever find canned or frozen fava beans here.

What a beautiful herb garden! (and walkway) I'm so with you on the herbs. Never use the dry stuff when there is a bounty of fresh in the garden.

Now that's my kind of pantry! So glad that the local critters have at least spared you the herbs!

I'm another fresh herb fan. I grow them on my deck in very large pots and I buy them at the farm market. I never met an herb I did not like, I guess, but I'm still experimenting with them. This may be a bad year for tomatoes, but it appears to be a good year for herbs. Perhaps because it's been dry here in Wisconsin?

What a great little garden you've got going on there.

Not only do you have a green thumb for herbs, but the garden looks beautifully cultivated and pristine - like one of those English country estates!

Lynne, that is exactly how I feel, too.

Milton, it was easy to tell the difference, because the herbs look just like they do in the supermarket, only happier, healthier, more robust, and with more flavor!

Linderhof, the herb garden is definitely part of my pantry. I use it every day in the summer.

Pam, hyssop is wonderfully invasive, so I imagine that eventually it will wander from my garden to yours if I don't keep it in check. Seriously, it is quite easy to find in garden centers here in Rhode Island, in early Spring.

Anh, it is definitely harder to keep a windowbox garden going, but if you can grow herbs on your windowsill, it will make you happy.

Jamie, Pauline, Noble Pig, Kathy, Elise, Julia, Peabody: thank you. I love my garden and it's taken a while this summer for everything to take off.

Kalyn, if you have access to a Spanish or Portuguese market, you should be able to find favas. If not, I'm happy to send food blogger care packages.

Mimi, the Northeast has been plagued with tomato blight, so any tomatoes left behind by the deer will be vulnerable. The herbs don't seem to appeal to the deer quite as much, though they have their favorites.

TW, I think this can be attributed to my skill at cropping photos, so you're not seeing the less attractive parts of my garden!

Smile, smile - photo cropping less attractive garden.... you're a star! You have the courage to grow more than Mint and Melisse (my case).... Its fantastic not to have to buy some herbs...especially with my kids loving fresh strawberries and melisse!

I live in an apartment with no outdoor space but have found great joy in my windowsill herb box (and attendant pots). Thyme is probably my most often used herb, followed closely by mint (which I adore in combination with fava beans!). It really is a whole new world...and considerably cheaper than buying them each time you want to use them.

Fresh herbs were the mainstay of our garden in New Mexico as well. They tend to be less fussy than many other plants. Aside from their good disposition, they just plain make the meal!

I have to confess... I just cannot, absolutely cannot, understand the Miracle Whip love. But that leaves more for you yeah?

Fresh herbs make me swoon, which is why I love going to my parents' house. I really need to set up a makeshift herb garden in my city apartment!

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