I have a friend. Let’s just call her Kellie. She has celiac disease, which means she cannot eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley). She consequently also has a hard time with dairy, so many of the meals we prepare together have to be both gluten-free and dairy-free. There always seems to be magic in the kitchen when we cook together. I am forced to come up with creative ways to prepare meals I normally make. We always end up with a delicious meal that is simple, lots of vegetables, interesting grains, and lean protein. It also ends up being fairly healthy too (except for that time we added bacon to our cauliflower and leek mashed potatoes…although that was pretty amazing)
I love using pork because it is fairly inexpensive and you can purchase two tenderloins at Trader Joe’s for under $10. It is a perfect option for entertaining because it can feed quite a few people (you can feed probably 6 people with those two tenderloins). For some reason, I always have to pair pork with sweet potatoes, it just makes sense in my head. Lastly, I consulted Kellie for what veggie she would like, and she suggested Romanesco (those little fractal, lime green veggies that seem to be somewhere in between cauliflower and broccoli). My local TJ’s was fresh out of Fresh Romanesco, so we went with zucchini, one of my old stand-bys. Overall, the meal was a success. I tried something new for the baked sweet potatoes (Maple and Cinnamon Butter instead of just butter and brown sugar), which was a really nice treat. The bag of sweet potatoes is another great buy from TJ’s. There were 6 potatoes in there for less than $2, pretty great deal if you ask me!
Now, on to the process:
You can make the glaze ahead of time , which is what I usually do when I make this. Refrigerate until ready to use. When you are ready to cook up the Pork Tenderloins, just give them a rub down with olive oil, sea salt and pepper. You can either combine the sea salt and pepper and oil and then rub it all together, or rub down with oil and then top with salt and pep. Either way, you’ll be fine. I use a large 9X12 pyrex dish for this. Another reason I love this meal is that you don’t have to marinate the meat for a long time prior to cooking. You don’t even need to prepare the glaze ahead of time either. The pork cooks for 10 minutes, and then you pour the glaze on top, so technically, you could prepare the glaze as the pork begins to cook. You’ll be done, start to finish in less than 30 minutes.
The zucchini was going to go in the over with the pork, so I prepared it very simply, with drizzles of Olive Oil, and fresh ground sea salt (or kosher salt) and pepper. I just periodically checked on the zucchini and tossed it as needed.
I use to never make baked sweet potatoes (or regular potatoes) before I learned how easy it was in the microwave. Now, it is my go-to side dish. So quick and easy. Just rinse the potatoes well, poke them all over with a fork or knife, and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave the sweet potatoes (6 minutes for the first one, then add an additional 2 minutes for each additional potato) and use caution when removing, because they will be ridiculously hot.
The Cinnamon maple butter was an experiment, and it was so incredibly successful, I feel like I need to make this by the vat full and swim in it. Just used 2 Tbsp Butter, 1 Tbsp Maple Agave Syrup (my personal favorite for taste and consistency, not because it is any more healthy than other syrup. They all are equally sugar-y. I am sure any maple syrup would be fine) and a few sprinkles of Cinnamon. Probably about 1/4 tsp. If I was making this in a larger portion, I probably would have used the stand mixer, but since my butter was soft already, it was easy to mix by hand.
Now is the part of my blog post that gets a little bit sad…
I was way too excited to eat this meal to remember to take a picture of the finished product.
But I assure you it looked colorful and beautiful and would make you salivate just by looking at it!
So, there you go. A super easy dinner that is perfect for entertaining on a budget and will be a breeze to prepare, even for a novice chef.
Apricot Glazed Pork Tenderloin
Adapted from Taste of Home
2 Pork Tenderloins
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1 Cup Apricot Preserves or Jam
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
3 Tbsp Chicken Broth
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, Chopped
Preheat oven to 425. Coat/rub pork tenderloins with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place pork in the oven for 10 minutes.
In the mean time, prepare the glaze by combining apricot jam, dijon mustard, chicken broth, garlic and thyme. After the pork is in the oven for 10 minutes, remove and add glaze, then return pork to the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145. Remove, slice into 1/2 inch-1 inch thick slices, and drizzle additional glaze on top.
Microwave Sweet Potatoes with Agave-Maple Butter
- 4 Sweet Potatoes
- 2 Tbsp Butter, softened
- 1 Tbsp Agave Maple Syrup
- 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
Rinse potatoes well and poke with a fork or knife, about 6 times all over. Cover with a damp paper towel and place on microwave-safe dish. Microwave the sweet potatoes (6 minutes for the first one, then add an additional 2 minutes for each additional potato) and use caution when removing.
While potatoes are cooking, combine last three ingredients until well mixed. Once potatoes are done cooking and ready to be served, slice down the middle with a knife to expose flesh and top with butter.
Simply Roasted Zucchini
Three large zucchini or yellow squash
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
Pre-heat oven to 425. Slice zucchini into 1/4 inch pieces. drizzle with olive oil and top with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for ~20 minutes, turning as needed.