I have become a huge locivore since moving to Florida. The fresh produce that we enjoy all year long is amazing. While the rest of the country is still fighting snow and ice, we are enjoying fresh summer squash and tomatoes! It always puts a smile on my face when I see the Fresh From Florida signs in the grocery store next to vegetables that, in other parts of the country, won’t be in season for another five or six months!
Produce that is in season here in March include: bell pepper, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, mushrooms, papaya, radish, peanuts, spinach, squash, sweet corn and tomatoes. If you look through that list, you might see that it includes all of the ingredients necessary for Ratatouille. It is one of my all-time favorite vegetable dishes. Despite the weirdness of this year’s weather, making it in March means that warm weather will be here to stay in a few weeks; the pools will be opening, sunscreen will be a daily addition to all of our routines and I will start adding ice back to my glasses of water.
Ratatouille, as most of you know, is a French dish. In order to give it a Southern flair, I paired it with a big batch of Slow Cooker Pulled Pork and Cheese Grits. It’s a complete dinner in one bowl. You can use fresh or canned tomatoes in the ratatouille. I prefer canned, simply because I don’t like dealing with the skins. Also, you can use a homemade rub (which is included in the recipe) or a store bought version for the pulled pork. Be sure to follow Fresh From Florida on Facebookj and Fresh From Florida on Twitter for more great recipes using Florida produce!
- for the Ratatouille:
- 1 eggplant, peeled and cubed
- 2 zucchini, cubed
- 1 bell pepper, cored and chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 14 oz can petite diced tomatoes (or 3 fresh, peeled and diced)
- 1½ cups water or chicken broth
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- for the Slow Cooker Pulled Pork:
- 1 pork butt or picnic roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into big chunks
- ¼ cup bbq rub (2 Tbsp paprika, ½ Tbsp salt, ½ Tbsp black pepper, ½ Tbsp garlic powder, ½ Tbsp dry mustard)
- ½ cup bottled liquid smoke
- for the Cheese Grits:
- 2 cups grits
- 4-5 cups water
- 2 cups grated Fontina or Cheddar cheese
- Start the pulled pork early in the morning.
- Put it into the slow cooker and rub all over with the seasoning.
- Pour the liquid smoke on top and set it on low for 10 hours or high for 5.
- Before serving, remove meat with a slotted spoon to a cutting board and pull it apart with a fork.
- Forty minutes before you want to eat, start chopping the vegetables for the ratatouille.
- Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven.
- Cook the onion until soft.
- Add the remaining ingredients, tossing to combine.
- Lower heat to low, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring once in a while to prevent scorching.
- In another saucepan, bring water to a boil for grits.
- Once it boils, slowly stir in the grits.
- Lower heat to medium-low and continue to stir as it thickens.
- When it reaches the desired consistency, turn the heat off.
- Add the cheese and stir until it melts.
- Serve the grits topped with the pork and then spoon on the ratatouille.
Is there a dish that you like to eat with fresh produce that signifys the end of winter?