Stuffed Pork Tenderloin on Grape Tomatoes, Middle Eastern Couscous with Saffron, Green Beans, and Lemon Bars

by Kelly on August 16, 2009

Regretfully, I forgot to take a picture of this dish. Trust me, it looks as good as it tastes. The colors are amazing. Frankly, it smelled too good for me to wait even 5 minutes to snap a blog-suitable photo of it. So you get a picture of dessert instead, taken at leisure after dinner was finished.

Pork tenderloin is one of my favorite meats to cook. It cooks quickly, stays tender, and can be used in a variety of dishes. Though I try to keep a tenderloin in my freezer for quick weeknight dinners, this stuffed preparation would make an impressive dinner party offering. No one will guess how easy it is to make. For the green beans, simply boil or steam them for a few minutes until they are tender.

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin on Grape Tomatoes

adapted from More Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pepin

Serves 4

4 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 bunch (about 12 oz/340 g) fresh spinach, washed, dried and stems removed
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large pork tenderloin (about 1 1/2 lb/680 g)
about 3/4 cup (90 g) grated cheddar cheese
1 box grape tomatoes (about 12 oz/340 g)

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over a high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the spinach, pushing it down into the skillet, and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Cover and cook over a medium heat for about 1 1/2 minutes, until the spinach is wilted. Remove the lid and cook, uncovered, until the liquid from the spinach has evaporated. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool.

Trim the tenderloin of any fat and silver skin. To butterfly the tenderloin for stuffing, lay it flat on the cutting board so one end is close to you and the other end is near the top of the board. Holding your knife so the blade is parallel to the board, cut through the long side of the tenderloin, stopping when you are about 1/2 inch from the other side. Turn the tenderloin so the uncut side is closest to you and make another parallel cut below the first one, again stopping about 1/2 inch before you reach the other side. Open up the butterflied tenderloin and pound it a little to extend it to about 12 inches long by 7 inches wide.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Arrange half the spinach mixture down the center of the butterflied tenderloin and top with the cheese. Add the rest of the spinach, fold in the sides, and roll the tenderloin back and forth to evenly distribute and encase the filling. Wrap 4 pieces of kitchen twine, each 6 to 7 inches long, around the tenderloin to secure the stuffing inside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large ovenproof nonstick skillet. Sprinkle the outside of the tenderloin with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Place the tenderloin carefully in the skillet and brown it, turning occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Bake the tenderloin in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, when it will be slightly pink in the center. Carefully remove the kitchen twine from the tenderloin. Transfer the tenderloin to a plate, cover, and keep warm in the oven while you prepare the tomatoes (the pork will continue to cook as it sits).

Add the tomatoes and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper to the skillet in which you browned the tenderloin and sauté over high heat for 2 minutes, until just softened. Divide among 4 warm plates. Slice the tenderloin crosswise into 8 medallions and arrange 2 slices in the middle of the tomatoes on each plate. Serve.

***

Middle Eastern Couscous with Saffron
adapted from More Fast Food My Way by Jacques Pepin

Serves 4

2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup (about 20 g) pine nuts
1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron pistils
1 1/2 cups (225 g) Israeli couscous
1 3/4 cups (415 ml) chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over high heat and add the onion, pine nuts, and saffron. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the couscous and mix well. Add the stock, salt, and pepper, mix well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes longer to dry the grains and make them fluffy.

***

Lemon bar

Lemon Bars
from Gourmet, March 1999

makes 24 bars

These bar cookies will keep, covered and chilled, for 3 days.

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup/170 g) unsalted butter
2 cups (220 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (100 g) packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (340 g) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (175 ml) fresh lemon juice (I used the juice from 2 lemons and 2 limes)
1/3 cup (40 g) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces. In a food processor, process all ingredients until the mixture begins to form small lumps. Sprinkle the mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan and with a metal spatula press evenly onto the bottom. Bake the shortbread in the middle of the oven until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

While the shortbread is baking, prepare the topping. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until combined well, then stir in the lemon juice and flour. Pour the lemon mixture over the hot shortbread. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F (150°C) and bake in the middle of the oven until set, about 30 minutes. Cool completely in the pan and cut into 24 bars. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the bars before serving.

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