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.
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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: Pretty(dang) Perfect Pork – With Pasta!

chinese porkMy love of pork knows no bounds.  I’m also pretty dang fond of noodles in any way, shape or form.  Put them together with a zingy little sauce and keep it all relatively low-calorie and healthy so that I can feel good about eating it, and I’ve found myself a “Winner, Winner, Piggy Dinner”!

Chinese Pork and Noodles comes from Food Network Magazine and has renewed my love with pork tenderloin.  I always think it’s the “safe” choice so I tend to look elsewhere – pork butt, chops, ribs, bacon.  Too often the tenderloin can be dry and not very flavorful.  The spiced hoisin marinade and glaze certainly takes care of that problem and the fact that it is the tenderloin makes it a cinch to prep and cook. I am officially back on the “tenderloin bandwagon”.

Chinese Pork and Noodles

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 pork tenderloin (1 to 1 1/4 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 heads baby bok choy (about 12 ounces), leaves separated
  • 8 ounces dried Chinese egg noodles
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • Sliced scallions, for topping

Procedure:

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven; preheat to 475 degrees F. Set a wire rack on a foil-lined baking sheet; set aside. Mix the honey, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger and five-spice powder in a small bowl. Cut the pork in half crosswise and prick all over with a fork; rub with 2 tablespoons of the honey-hoisin marinade, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Place on the wire rack.

Roast the pork until the surface looks dry, about 10 minutes. Remove 3 more tablespoons of the marinade to a separate bowl and brush all over the pork (save the remaining marinade for topping). Return to the oven and cook until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 145 degrees F, 16 to 18 more minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the bok choy and boil until crisp-tender, 30 to 45 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook as the label directs. Drain thoroughly, then toss with the sesame oil and season with salt.

Slice the pork. Divide the noodles among shallow bowls. Top with the pork and bok choy. Drizzle with the reserved honey-hoisin marinade and top with scallions.

Weekly Winner – Turning Hipster and Going Green in One Single Meal.

There’s not a whole lot I haven’t done with pork. After all, it is the Best. Meat. Ever (in my humble opinion, at least).  And while I’ve applied a great variety of nationalities to pork including Thai (as this recipe is), I’m not terribly familiar with Green Curry Paste.  I’ve used Red Curry Paste many times and adore it, but not the green variety. 

I also have to admit right up front that this incredible photo is not mine. It belongs to Bon Appetit where the recipe is from. Mine?  Well, let’s just say it would not convince you to make this dish!  I’ve got a way to go with food photography. So anyway, I decided to go with the professional model (mine, obviously was not covered in cilantro).

Green Curry Pork Tenderloin is hard to describe.  Its citrusy, spicy, creamy, and luscious all at the same time.  The pumpkin seeds add crunch and the sear on the pork adds a meaty, toasty note.  By cooking the tenderloin at such a low temperature, the pork comes out juicy, tender, and evenly cooked throughout.

So, now you know what I mean about “Going Green”… but what about the “Turning Hipster” part?  Well, I surmised that this sauce was going to be tasty and would require a side dish worthy of holding on to said sauce.  Because it’s a Thai Curry sauce, I immediately thought of white rice.  But as it is still January, and I am still all aglow with healthy, nutritious resolutions I decided to think “outside the rice bowl”.  The answer was obvious … it was time to try out Cauliflower Rice! For those of you not phased by the latest culinary trends, Cauliflower Rice is made by putting cauliflower in a food processor and pulsing it until it’s the size of rice.  Then simply sauté it up and you have, what I found out, was an amazing substitute for rice. Don’t get me wrong – you still know its cauliflower but it serves the rice purpose beautifully.  If you don’t like the taste of cauliflower you probably won’t like this unless you heavily flavor it with something else.

So there’s a summary of the hipster-green dinner I prepared last night.  Now for the recipe:

Green Curry Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:

Tenderloin:

¼ cup soy sauce

2 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 pork tenderloin (about 1½ pounds)

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon grapeseed or vegetable oil

Sauce And Assembly:

1 tablespoon plus ½ cup grapeseed or vegetable oil

1 medium shallot, chopped

1 garlic clove

¼ cup prepared green curry paste

1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

1 14.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

¼ cup cilantro leaves, plus more for serving (I used parsley for the sauce only)

Unsalted, roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas; for serving)

Preparation:

Tenderloin:

Combine soy sauce, orange juice, maple syrup, and sesame oil in a large resealable plastic bag. Add tenderloin; close bag, pressing out air. Chill, turning once, 4–12 hours. Remove tenderloin from marinade and pat dry; discard marinade. Season lightly with salt.

Preheat oven to 250°. Heat grapeseed oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Cook tenderloin, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of tenderloin registers 130°, 20–25 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board; let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Sauce and Assembly:

While meat is cooking, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large saucepan over medium. Cook shallot and garlic, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add curry paste and lime zest and cook, stirring constantly, until paste is slightly darkened in color and very fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add coconut milk, bring to a simmer, and cook until reduced by half, 20–25 minutes. Let curry mixture cool.

Transfer curry mixture to a blender and add agave, lime juice, ¼ cup cilantro, and 2 Tbsp. water; blend until very smooth. With motor running, add remaining ½ cup oil in a steady stream; blend until sauce is thick and emulsified. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat over medium just until warmed through.

Serve pork over sauce topped with cilantro and pumpkin seeds.

Weekly Winner:  An Odd Little Dinner without a Country

So the beginning of the new year always brings with it tons of healthy and light recipes that I am all-too-willing to try.  I am always ready to discover new combinations of flavors, or the new “it” ingredient and find ways of incorporating them into my diet.  This recipe, while definitely healthy and low-calorie, did not introduce anything new to the party.  I’ve had every ingredient listed a hundred times but for some reason, it just sounded intriguing.  I thought it would be a good dish to try out when I was short on time but wanted something light and new.  Which was just where I found myself last night.

As we sat down to eat, I was stumped.  It’s good…very savory and tasty and extremely familiar, but then in other ways it seemed quite unique.  My husband was also confused.  He saw the pork cut up along with the mushrooms and carrots and I think he was expecting either a stir-fry or a stew.  This however was neither.  There was not one single Asian ingredient to bring the dish over to the stir-fry team, and it certainly wasn’t any kind of stew.

So what exactly was this dish?  I have no idea.  The name certainly didn’t give any clues: Pork with Mushrooms and Barley.  It wasn’t Asian, Indian, French, German or Italian.  Perhaps it was a new take on a good-old American dinner. Regardless, it was delicious in a perfectly harmonious, unassuming sort of way.  I’ll be making it again I’m sure.  The recipe comes from Food Network Magazine.

Pork with Mushrooms and Barley

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 cup quick cooking barley

4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

4 tsp packed light brown sugar

1 large pork tenderloin (about 1-1/4 pounds), trimmed and cut into 3/4 inch chunks

Kosher salt and ground pepper

1 cup chicken broth

2 tsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

8 ounces cretinism mushrooms, sliced

2 leeks (white and light green parts only), chopped

3 carrots, chopped

Chopped fresh parsley, for topping

Procedure:

  1. Cook the barley as the label directs.  Cover and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce with 2 tsp brown sugar in a medium bowl.  Add the pork, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Whisk the chicken broth, cornstarch and the remaining 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce and 2 tsp brown sugar in a small bowl until smooth; set aside.
  3. Heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat.  Add the pork and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned, about 4 minutes.  Remove to a plate.
  4. Wipe out skillet and add the remaining 1 Tbsp vegetable oil.  Add the mushrooms, leeks, carrots, 1/2 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes.  Return the pork to the skillet and add the broth mixture.  Cook, stirring, until the sauce is slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.  Serve with the barley; top with parsley.