ARKANSAS' BOUNTY

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Aaron Walters

Summertime in Arkansas brings a lot of things. Oppressive heat and humidity, for one, which I'm not big on. It also brings great produce! Corn, beans, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, to name a few! I grew up in a small farming town, so my family always had a garden. My parents still run it to this day! In fact, that's where I get all of the produce for my dinners! Home grown! 

I'm going to give you a few of my favorite summer recipes to use when the bounty of produce starts rolling in. To start off, we'll talk about some sweet corn! I don't know about you, but I was very surprised at how many different types of corn grow in Arkansas. My personal favorite is dubbed "Peaches and Cream." As the name suggests, this species of corn has a great inherent sweetness that I love to pair with spicy flavors. Also, this dish is the perfect accompaniment to a nice pan-seared trout! 


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Sweet Corn Succotash

  • 4 cups fresh corn, cut off cob
  • 2 TBSP habanero pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Add the butter and olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat.
Once the butter is melted add the onion and cook for 3-4 minuets until softened.
Add the corn and peppers to the skillet and cook for for 10 minutes. 
Stir in one tablespoon of the fresh basil.
Pour in the cream and season with the salt and pepper.
Cook 5 minutes until the cream has reduced, then top with the other tablespoon of fresh basil and serve.


Another beautiful bounty Arkansas provides is watermelon! There are several popular locations to get your watermelon from, but none are more regarded than Cave City! For this recipe, I pair the sweet delicious watermelon with some spicy sauteed gulf shrimp. The juxtaposition of textures and flavors is a thing of beauty! This is arguably one of the best dishes I have created!

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Watermelon and Shrimp
(Serves 4)

  • 4 planks watermelon (3"x1"x1")
  • Zest and juice of 2 Limes
  • 12 Gulf shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 2 TBSP Gochujang paste
  • 1 tsp Sambal Olek
  • 2 TBSP toasted sesame oil
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • Salt & pepper to taste

For the watermelon:
Cut and seed the watermelon to the 3 x 1 x 1 size specifics. Place in a plastic bag or container with the lime zest and keep in fridge until ready to plate. 

For the shrimp:
In a medium saute pan, heat butter and sesame oil. When hot, add shrimp in a single layer and cook for 2 minutes. Flip shrimp and add the sambal, gochujang and lime juice. Cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until cooked through. 

To plate, place one watermelon plank on each plate. Carefully place three shrimp atop each slice of watermelon and garnish with a couple cilantro leaves.


So there you have two of my favorite summer dishes to prepare using beautiful Arkansas produce!

Let us know what how you celebrate with Arkansas produce via Facebook or Instagram!

Cheers!