Weekly Winner: Pork and Pears Perfect a Salad

pork saladThis time of year, weather in Chicago is somewhat psychotic.  One minute it’s still blazing hot, the next a cool, autumnal breeze is blowing and you can just tell fall is around the corner (yay!).

So while it still can be considered “salad weather”, I also find that for dinner at least, a simple salad doesn’t cut it.  I need more.  I need….. pork!  Raspberry-Walnut Pork Salad is the perfect season-changing dinner.  The recipe comes from Taste of Home Magazine (which, by the way has come a long way since I last perused the recipes.  I’m glad I gave it another look!)

Now, back to the recipe:  Coating the pork in a mix of flour and ground walnuts give it a nice crunch and nutty taste.  All in all, this is one of those fabulous salads that give you a different taste with each bite – there’s a lot going on here.  And all of it is super tasty!

Raspberry-Walnut Pork Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 pork tenderloins (3/4 lb each), cut into 1 inch slices

1/3 cup ground walnuts

2 Tbsp flour

1/2 tsp salt, divided

1/2 tsp pepper, divided

4-1/2 tsp walnut oil

1/3 cup chopped shallot

1 medium pear, chopped

3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup seedless raspberry preserves

1/3 cup raspberry vinegar

2 tsp minced fresh rosemary or 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed

2 tsp minced fresh sage

2 pkgs (6 oz each) fresh baby spinach

1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Procedure:

  1. Flatten tenderloin slices to 1/2 inch thickness. In a large bowl, combine the ground walnuts, flour, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Add the pork, a few pieces at a time, and turn to coat.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook pork in oil in batches for 2-3 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove and keep warm
  3. In the same skillet, sauté shallot until tender.  Add pear; cook 1 minute longer.  Add the chicken broth, preserves and vinegar.  Bring to a boil; cook until slightly thickened, 6-8 minutes.  Stir in rosemary, sage and the remaining salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  4. Place spinach in a large bowl.  Add pear mixture; toss to coat.  Divide among six plates; top each with pork.  Sprinkle with cheese and chopped walnuts.

Weekly Winner: My New Go-To Meatball

ricotta pork meatballsDoes the world really need another meatball?  Heck, yeah!  A more appropriate question might be: “Is there such a thing as too many meatballs?”

These big, beautiful meatballs are incredibly moist and tender and made out of two of my favorite things – pork and cheese! The recipe for Pork and Ricotta Meatballs comes from Cook’s Country magazine and I’m seriously considering making this my “everyday” spaghetti and meatball recipe.  This one takes just about the same amount of total time, but more of it is “hands off” which means I will probably make it more often.  And I should make this often because it is awesome — you should too!  Here’s the deal:

Pork and Ricotta Meatballs

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

4 slices hearty white sandwich bread, crusts removed, torn into small pieces

8 oz (1 cup) whole-milk ricotta cheese

2 lbs ground pork

1 oz Parmesan cheese grated (1/2 cup), plus extra for serving

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 large eggs

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp salt

1-1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp grated lemon zest

Sauce:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

10 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

1 tsp red pepper flakes

2 (28-oz) cans crushed tomatoes

salt and pepper

2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

Procedure:

  1. For the meatballs: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.  Set wire rack in aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and spray evenly with vegetable oil spray.  Combine bread and ricotta in large bowl and let sit, mashing occasionally with fork, until smooth paste forms, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add pork, Parmesan, parsley, eggs, shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon zest to bread mixture and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined.  Divide meat mixture into 24 portions (about 1/4 cup each) and place on platter.  Roll portions between your wet hands to form meatballs and evenly space on prepared wire rack.  Roast meatballs until browned, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through roasting.  Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
  3. For the sauce: Meanwhile, combine oil and garlic in Dutch oven set over low heat and cook until garlic is soft and golden on all sides, 12 to 14 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in tomatoes and 1 tsp salt.  Cover, with lid slightly ajar, and bring to simmer over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce has thickened slightly, about 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Nestle meatballs into sauce, cover, and transfer pot to oven.  Bake until meatballs are tender and sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes. Transfer meatballs and sauce to serving platter.  Sprinkle with basil and serve, passing extra Parmesan separately.