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 Dinner Salad

Summer means salads.  And while I am a big fan of salads for lunch or as a side for dinner, I generally do not consider them “Dinner-Worthy”all by themselves. That is, until now.

Dinners to me need to be a bit more substantial, and regardless of how hot and humid the weather, I feel something in the dinner actually needs to be cooked – and therefore hot (or at least warm).

Enter the Charred Steak Salad with Spicy Dressing that we thoroughly enjoyed (read “devoured”) last night.  This salad has a ton going for it.  First off: roasted veggies.  In my book, there is not a vegetable in the world that can’t be improved upon by roasting.  The recipe calls for broiling them but I’m a roaster. You do what you feel comfortable with.  Secondly, a creamy dressing.  I am a fan of mayonnaise or yogurt based dressings and this one is sweet and spicy all at the same time.  Thirdly, steak!!  If I’m not going to be adding bacon (my protein of choice) to a salad, then it better be steak.  The recipe calls for flank steak which would have been fine, but I happened to have some fabulous skirt steak in the freezer so we went with that.  Last but not least, French fried onions.  Yep, you heard me.  In my mind those are the only redeeming ingredient in green bean casserole and definitely made up for the lack of bacon.  The recipe comes from Southern Living, and if I had to find fault with anything about this recipe it would be that it didn’t have any cheese.  Honestly though, it didn’t need it.  I usually feel the need to add cheese to dang-near anything, but the fact that I didn’t even notice the lack of cheese until this morning while writing this tells me it definitely was not needed.  Although a few blue cheese crumbles??  Just sayin’.  Maybe next time.

Charred Steak Salad with Spicy Dressing

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons Asian chili-garlic sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 (2-lb.) flank steak (or skirt steak, in my case)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 fresh rosemary sprigs

1 pound broccoli florets

1 pound cauliflower florets

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 cups loosely packed gourmet lettuce (such as arugula, baby kale, or baby spinach)

French fried onions

Preparation

1. Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat. Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper over steak. Grill steak, covered with grill lid, 8 to 10 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness. Brush steak with olive oil, using rosemary sprigs as a basting brush. Let stand 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, preheat broiler with oven rack 7 inches from heat. Toss together broccoli, next 2 ingredients, and remaining 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a large bowl. Spread broccoli mixture in a single layer in a jelly-roll pan, and broil 3 to 5 minutes or until charred and tender. Transfer to large bowl.

4. Toss together broccoli mixture and lettuce. Cut steak diagonally across the grain into thin strips. Arrange steak on a serving platter; top with broccoli mixture. Sprinkle with fried onions, and serve with dressing.