Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pork Tenderloin with Lentils and Vegetables

Festive fall food for the Solo Cook.  You probably don't want to cook a big pork loin and roasted vegetables (unless all the gang is coming,) but you might want to fix a smaller pork tenderloin and an all-in-one side brimming with legumes and sauteed vegetables that you can also take for lunches.  Sometimes in the summer I make a lentil salad and, while I was thinking about that salad, I came up with a colder weather version that's warm and inviting--despite the fact that there's still a bit of lemon juice squeezed in at the end.  Summer isn't that far away.

One of the beauties of this meal is that, if you want to, you can come home and fix it.  Pork tenderloin is a very fast meat to cook.  Seared on top of the stove and then roasted for a bit more, it's done in perhaps 20 minutes.  If that doesn't appeal, you can simply roast it for about 45 minutes at 350.  With the bacon wrap, I like the sear as it crisps the bacon right to the pork. 

To get this lovely meal out together, cook the lentils first and then begin browning the meat as you chop and saute the vegetables.  If one is done before the other, you've no worries.  The lentil-vegetable side will hold and reheat (and is good warm or cold with it's ending crunch of fresh carrots, etc.) and the meat has to rest anyway after roasting.  However you do it, you'll be happy.  I think so.  Did I mention leftover  the meat makes incredible tacos,  salads, omelet fillings, or sandwiches?  Or that this makes a tasty, easy Thanksgiving dinner for 2 or 3?  Let one friend bring pie and the other bring wine; you're set for the holiday.

Pork Tenderloin with Lentils and Vegetables 2-3 servings (plus lentil dish for lunches)


1/2 pound lentils (any color), cooked and drained according to package directions --takes about 1/2 hour* 
3T olive oil, divided (1 to cook veg and 2 to drizzle on at end)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup each:  chopped eggplant, yellow squash, and zucchini (or green beans)
4 oz sliced mushrooms (1/2 a regular container)
1/4 cup   finely chopped red or green bell pepper
1/4 t each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (plus extra to taste)
Generous pinch of crushed red pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup basil julienne (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow pepper
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped carrots
3 sliced green onions (white and green parts)

Juice of one lemon

  1. While lentils drain, heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add olive oil.  Saute onion, eggplant, squash, zucchini or green beans, mushrooms, and red or green pepper until softened--about 10 minutes.  Dust with salt and pepper and crushed red pepper.
  2. Turn off heat and add parsley, basil, yellow pepper, tomatoes, carrots, and green onions.  Stir in lentils and don't cook any longer.  ( A bit of a reheat is ok--see below.)
  3. Squeeze lemon juice over all and stir.
  4. Drizzle on other 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Stir.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  6. Cover to keep warm until pork is finished .  You can reheat gently if you like.
Cooking the Pork: **

1 pork tenderloin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 slices best-quality bacon (I like Nueske's)

Salt and pepper well the pork tenderloin and wrap it with the bacon pieces, securing ends with toothpicks.

  Meanwhile, heat a large, oven-proof skillet or heavy roasting pan over medium-high heat; add olive oil.  Place bacon-wrapped pork in the center of the pan. When the meat is very-well browned, turn and let brown on the other side. When that side is looking crispy, move the pan to the oven to finish cooking.  It may take another 15 minutes or so.  Using an instant-read thermometer, remove the skillet from the oven when the meat registers 150F.   I like it a bit rare and juicy; it will continue cooking.  Cover with aluminum foil for about 10 minutes before carving and serving.  Slice meat in 1/2"  pieces.  Place cut meat at the center of a large platter and surround with lentils and vegetables.

*Can cook lentils in the morning or night before.  Drain and refrigerate, tightly wrapped.  Spoon into the skillet with the cooked vegetables to warm through right before serving.

**These are directions I used for another blogpost in which the pork cooks just like this, but you also cook sliced fennel, onions, and apples right in the pan with the pork and then roast it all together in the oven.  That's nice, too--and mostly fallish!

Wine:  A Pinot Noir from Oregon.  Your choice, though I'm partial to Ken Wright pinots with meals like this.  Thanks, Ken.

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,

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