June is here! School is out, the weather is hot, and time seems to slow just a bit.
One of my favorite things about June is the longer days give us an opportunity to have an outdoor dinner using seasonal ingredients! June’s freshest produce in Florida is plentiful! From juicy watermelon to buckets of sweet corn, the dinner menu possibilities are endless - and all it requires is a trip to the farmer’s market. Southside Produce just popped up on Shepherd Road and is our new favorite spot to find seasonal fruit and vegetables!
The fruit in season this month include avocado, cantaloupe, guava, lychee, mango, orange, papaya, passion fruit, and watermelon. They are great ingredients to use at the start of the meal.
Fresh Fruit Cocktails and Mocktails - For the drinkers in the group, take any fresh fruit (or any combination you like!), juice it, and add vodka or rum. If Tequila is more your style, you can make a fun twist on a margarita using passion fruit and oranges. For the non-drinkers, try the crowd-pleasing Passion Fruit Cooler! Just mix passion fruit juice, orange juice, seltzer water, and ice.
Mango Taquitos – Add shredded pork or chicken to the middle of a small corn tortilla, roll into a cigar, and fry until crispy. Place drained taquitos on a plate and top with diced mango, mashed avocado, red onion, jalapeño if you like heat, and cilantro. Squeeze a wedge of lime and enjoy!
Fruit Salad – mix any fresh fruit you love with mint leaves and pair it with a sinful fruit dip for a crowd pleasing first course. For the fruit dip, beat cream cheese until smooth and fold in marshmallow fluff. Sprinkle the fruit with some ancho chili powder for a shock of flavor!
The fresh vegetables available this month include mushroom, potato, sweet corn, tomato, and eggplant. These vegetables have inspired the following side dishes that pair well with any protein such as steak, smoked pork, or salmon.
Florida-Style Ratatouille – Smash fresh tomatoes into the bottom of a round oven safe casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fresh basil. Slice the mushroom, potato, and eggplant thin, season, and place upright in a circular pattern around the dish. Top with fresh sweet corn kernels, drizzle olive oil over the dish, and roast at 375 for about an hour. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve with fresh bread.
Tomato and Mayo – its not a Florida summer without fresh tomatoes and mayo. I prefer my tomatoes sliced, sprinkled with a generous amount of salt and pepper, and a dollup of mayo on the side so I can dip it. You can also chop the tomato and mix it into the mayo. This method allows you to get a little creative – you can add cucumbers, onion, avocado, even bacon! Yum!
June’s Pasta Primavera – one of my favorite ways to use fresh veggies is in a pasta! Just chop some mushrooms, eggplant and onions, season, and sauté in olive oil until soft. Add chopped tomatoes and sauté until desired doneness (I like them a bit charred). Add some fresh herbs and parmesan cheese before pouring into cooked pasta. Toss to combine. Squeeze 1 Tbsp fresh lemon on top, toss again and serve. Garnish with more olive oil, cheese and basil if desired.
End the summer dinner with refreshing fruit popsicles. This recipe requires molds, but the purchase is worth the smiles you get all around when you serve these frozen pops that are synonymous with summer. Blend watermelon, mint leaves, coconut water, lime juice, and honey. Pour into molds and serve once frozen.
I hope this menu inspires you to host a summertime dinner celebrating all the produce Florida has to offer this June! What’s your favorite Produce Stand in Lakeland where you buy all your fresh produce?