This little piggy went to the market…

…the Farmer’s Market. And scored some truly fresh finds. For this healthy meal, organic cauliflower & carrots are making a comeback. This time however, they’re gonna get totally smashed! So long potatoes. And our pig? A center-cut, extra lean, pork tenderloin. We will slice into medallions, marinate, sear and top onto balsamic-wilted spinach & our roasted cauli-carrot smoked fontina smash.  We’ll make a flavorful/savory marinade with balsamic, dijon & white wine, and reduce some down to top our plate.

This is not a tough dish to make, but cooking pork can be ‘lil tricky, as it needs to be thoroughly cooked, but not overdone. Rubbery hockey puck pork is just no bueno (I know from pervious experience:). If I don’t have the time to roast a large tenderloin, slicing into about 1″ thick medallions allows you to get dinner to the table a little faster. We first cook on stove to sear & brown, then transfer to the oven to finish cooking with some added juices. White meat pork is a great, lean protein for marinating, as it is neutral and takes-on flavors well. I love using the combination of balsamic, dijon, white wine and honey for the pork. They make for a perfect sauce to put over the slightly sweet-starchiness of our smash.

Using cauliflower and fresh carrot is a nutrient-enhanced version of your basic mashed spuds. We roast in the oven with garlic until tender and achieve a creamy texture, with a little parm & smoked fontina cheese; score!

Spinach is a green vegetable I try to eat at least 4 times/week. I use it in lieu of other greens for salad, chop and put on tacos, and love simply steamed. We will incorporate the leafy powerhouse by slightly wilting them on the stove, and adding a small amount of balsamic, garlic and salt.

 It’s time to get your loins ready… Well, you know what I mean!!

Balsamic-dijon pork loin w/ cauliflower carrot & fontina smash, & wilted spinach

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Prep Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Yield: a 24 oz pork loin of lean goodness

about 8 medallions, depends how you slice

We marinate lean pork tenderloin medallions in a flavorful blend of balsamic, white wine and dijon. The seared medallions are perfect on top of smash of roasted cauliflower, carrots & garlic. We add wilted spinach for our green and we have one happy, healthy plate!

What to get...

  • 24 oz center cut pork tenderloin (extra lean, fillet) cut into 1" medallions.
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • Head of cauliflower, trimmed and sectioned
  • 1/4 lb smoked fontina cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 5 cloves garlic, for roasting
  • 3 T butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup Half & Half or milk
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, for wilting
  • 1 can chicken broth, low sodium
  • *little extra balsamic for spinach
  • *extra EVOO to drizzle onto roasting vegetables
  • *extra white wine for sauce as desired
  • For pork Marinade & Reduction:
  • 1/4 cup WeOlive Koroneiki EVOO
  • 1/6 cup white wine (like Chardonnay)
  • 1/8 cup WeOlive blackberry balsamic (or regular balsamic)
  • 1 T WeOlive Garlic-infused EVOO *can add extra garlic clove chopped if you don't have
  • 1 T Dijon or spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 T honey (if you don't have blackberry balsamic above, add little more honey)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

What to do...

    The Game Plan:
    make marinade & marinate pork
    roast veggies for smash
    sear pork on stove, and transfer to oven
    make smash and transfer to oven
    reduce some of marinade on stove , for topping
    wilt spinach on stove
    plate!
    Detailed Instructions:
  1. Combine all marinade ingredients, whisk well in bowl, set aside.
  2. Rinse and slice pork tenderloin into approx 1" slices (medallions).
  3. Add pork to marinade bowl, coating each well.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and return to fridge for about 25 min.
  5. Meanwhile, trim cauliflower and peel carrots & section into large pieces and place on an oiled roasting pan.
  6. To pan add 5 garlic cloves, no need to peel.
  7. Drizzle all with EVOO and S&P, and place pan in 400 degree oven and roast about 25 min uncovered.
  8. Take pork marinade from fridge, stir, & let sit on counter covered for additional 20 min, to come closer to room temp.
  9. Check roasting veggies & add about 1/2 cup water to bottom of pan, cover with foil, roast additional 35 min, or until tender/done with fork. Once tender, remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  10. In a preheated, oven safe, skillet on stove (medium), sear pork medallions with some of the marinade, flipping on both sides till starting to brown. (3-5 minutes). Transfer to 350 degree oven, adding a few T of the chicken broth or some additional white wine. Pork is done when there is only faint hint of pink in center, so keep a close eye (think mine took about 15-20 min).
  11. While Pork Cooks, Make Smash:
  12. Chop roasted cauliflower, carrot and add 4 of the roasted garlic cloves peeled (they should be mush and sweet!). Add to bowl of electric mixer with 2-3 T butter, the half & half, some S&P to taste, combining well.
  13. To achieve creamy consistency, I used immersion blender to smooth out chunks. (You can do this in a blender or food processor as well).
  14. Return to oven safe dish/bowl to heat mixture in oven for about 5 minutes (pork may still be cooking, 350 OK). Once at temperature, add cubed fontina & parm, combining well, return to oven to melt thoroughly.*If pork is not yet done in oven, smash can go into oven along side it.
  15. Cook Spinach & Reduce Sauce:
  16. In another skillet, cook & reduce about a cup of remaining marinade on medium-low, thoroughly (because this had raw meat in it, you will need to cook for at least 15-20 min on medium).
  17. Stirring often, as sauce thickens, add small amounts of chicken stock to thin consistency and mellow flavor. Let reduce on low until desired consistency/flavor is reached. (I added a little white wine, black pepper, and a T butter at this point, but season to your taste).*You won't need much of this; it is only to enhance the flavors. If it seems salty, add more broth or water.
  18. On stove, in small pot (with available lid), add about 3/4 cup water, S&P and heat till almost boiling.
  19. Add fresh spinach stirring into warm water. Reduce heat to medium-low & cover for 1 minute to help wilt. Remove lid & stir adding drizzle of balsamic, one of the roasted/smashed garlic cloves, and 1 T butter. Stir well over heat, till spinach is beginning to wilt & soften, but still bright green. Remove from heat, drain as needed.
  20. Plate the warm smash, top with some of the wilted spinach, and then with pork medallions. Drizzle a small amount of reduced sauce to the top and eat!

Notes

This one seems complicated, but much can be done simultaneously. You will use the stove: to sear pork, wilt spinach and reduce sauce. You will use your oven: roast vegetables, finish cooking pork, and reheat smash to melt cheeses.

Prep time is long only to marinate. You can also marinate the pork in the fridge for a longer period of time, to enhance flavor, or do ahead of time!

Cook more spinach than you think you need, it wilts down to a very little quantity.

Also, if you're wanting to skip some butter, you can omit from mash, though texture will be affected. Can also omit from adding to spinach, it mellows it out a bit though!

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When I make tenderloin, I change up the marinade routinely. Other fantastic flavor combos for this are pineapple, teriyaki and orange, or rosemary and red wine. Depends on the weather! Hit the farmer’s market to see what new seasonal twists you can apply to classic dishes.

Lean protein + antioxidant-rich veggies + a good glass of wine = a perfect night!

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