Weekly Winner: This Salad Outshines the Swine; or when Pork Pales to Panzanella

watermelon panzanellaIt’s no secret that I am a big fan of the pig.  Love me some pork.  But this time, the pork absolutely paled in comparison to this spin on the panzanella salad.  Now, to be fair, I’m also a huge fan of bread.  Bread in or with anything is good, but I adore bread in salad.  So, obviously, Pork Tenderloin with Watermelon Panzanella was a tremendous hit and will absolutely become a summer staple around here.  Best part was since you grill the bread and the pork — the kitchen stays blissfully cool.  Some may say cool as a cucumber, but in this case it was cool as a freshly cut watermelon.  The recipe comes from Eating Well Magazine and this time… I didn’t change a thing!

Pork Tenderloin with Watermelon Panzanella

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1/4 tsp salt

4 slices crusty whole-wheat bread (10 ounces)

4 Tbsp olive oil

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

6 cups chopped watermelon

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/2 cup torn fresh basil

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Procedure:

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high
  2. Season pork with chili powder, pepper and salt.  Grill the pork, turning occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 140F, 12 to 14 minutes.  Transfer to a clean cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes
  3. Grill bread until charred, 1 to 2 minutes per side.  When cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch pieces.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk oil, lime zest, lime juice and jalapeño in a large bowl.  Add watermelon, onion, basil feta and the bread and toss to coat.
  5. Slice the pork 1/2-inch thick and serve with the watermelon panzanella.

Weekly Winner – Back in Balance…with bread!

My gluttonous moment has passed and I have put away all my gooey cheese, pasta, and pork products (temporarily, of course –everything in balance).  I am back to embracing salads and my favorite type of salad is one that includes bread.  I don’t care if its croutons or a roll on the side — I’m in.  My all-time favorite, however, is a panzanella salad.  What is better than crunchy bread brought back to life with a little dressing?  OK, yes, bacon… but we’re being virtuous this week, so work with me!!

There were a couple of things that caught my interest with this recipe for Chickpea Panzanella which I found in Cooking Light magazine.  First of course, was the chickpeas.  I adore chickpeas.  The other was the fact that this salad had artichoke hearts.  I cannot say I love artichoke hearts.  I didn’t think I hated them either.  Truth be told, with the exception of spinach artichoke dip, I just haven’t had much exposure to them.  I thought this would be an excellent time to try them out.  Everything else in this salad I know I adored so perhaps this would be the vehicle to win me over.  The salad was excellent.  The artichoke hearts?  Meh.  I can honestly say I would like the salad more without them.  Maybe next time I’ll swap them out for cucumbers or roasted peppers.  My husband can have his dislike for watercress, I apparently dislike artichoke hearts.

Chickpea Panzanella

Serves 5 – (seriously, that’s what they say!)

Ingredients:

1 (8-oz.) ciabatta loaf

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1 (15-oz.) can unsalted chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 (8.5-oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained

3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove and discard crust from ciabatta; cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread bread cubes in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes or until toasted and golden.

Combine toasted bread, tomatoes, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, feta, onion, and basil in a large bowl.

In a separate smaller bowl, combine oil, vinegar, oregano, pepper, and salt. Stir with a whisk. Pour over salad; toss to combine. Garnish with chopped fresh basil.