Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pork with Blueberries? YES!

I am a big fan of blueberries. If you've been reading my posts since the beginning, you know that one of my favorite treats ever is Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries and agave nectar. My latest favorite breakfast dish is Kashi whole grain blueberry waffles with a little butter, a big handful of fresh blueberries, agave nectar, and toasted pecans. Absolutely delicious!

Given my passion for this lovely little fruit morsel, I decided to move it away from the typical dessert and breakfast fare and invent a way to use it in a main dish. Tim had cooked up some pork tenderloin on the grill recently that was so fabulous, we ate the leftovers cold the next day. So that made the wheels start turning in the direction of combining grilled pork with blueberries.

I started with a blueberry marinade by processing a pint of blueberries with balsamic vinegar, agave nectar and oil. I decided that olive oil might overpower the blueberry flavor, so I used canola oil. I think a nut oil would be lovely as well, like peanut or hazlenut oil. I knew it would need some sort of herb, and I decided on lemon thyme. It has such a beautiful fragrance and with that I also threw in the grated rind of a lemon. Lastly, I thought the combination of sweet and spicy would be nice, like my "fire and spice" shrimp in a previous post. So I added some cayenne pepper. The marinade ended up to be twice as much as I needed for the one pork tenderloin, so we saved it to marinate some chicken in later in the week.

While the pork was marinating, I put together a blueberry salsa to serve over the top of the pork. I used a half a pint of blueberries, agave, shallots, the juice of the lemon I zested for the marinade, salt and pepper and more thyme and cayenne. The salsa was delicious, but when it was served over the pork, it was clear that some color was needed. For this meal, I just garnished with a fanned strawberry and that helped, but I think next time, I will add some diced tomato to the salsa. I think that will enhance both the color and the flavor. We also thought that the shallots were a little "bitey" in the salsa, so next time, I plan to use Vidalia onion instead.

Thankfully, there was leftover salsa as well, since we completely devoured all of the pork! Now we'll be able to use both the marinade and the salsa with chicken or turkey.

Here is the recipe with the proposed changes and variations. Enjoy!

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Salsa

2 pork tenderloins, about 1 lb. each
For marinade:
1 pint blueberries
1/3 cup fine balsamic vinegar
1/4 canola or peanut oil
2 T agave nectar (or honey)
Grated rind of one lemon
1 T chopped fresh thyme (I used lemon thyme.)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Blend all marinade ingredients in food processor until smooth. Pour over pork tenderloin in covered glass container. Marinade for several hours or overnight, turning once.
Grill pork tenderloins over hottest part of grill to sear. Turn to sear other side, then move to cooler part of grill to cook slowly until temperature reaches 155 degrees. (Temperature will rise to 160 upon standing). Let stand for 5 minutes, then slice. Seve with salsa.

For salsa:
1/2 pint blueberries, halved
1/2 cup diced tomato (optional)
1 T agave nectar (or honey)
1/4 cup finely diced Vidalia onion
Juice of one lemon
1 T chopped fresh thyme
1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Toss all salsa ingredients in a bowl. Serve over grilled pork.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Great Italian Meal Without Pasta

If you scroll back to an earlier post, you will find a recipe for mussels that Tim makes with his homemade pesto. Recently, he made the same dish, adding scallops and shrimp. It is one of my favorite dishes ever. I am so spoiled by his pesto, that I just can't bear to buy store pesto ever again. And so yesterday when we were trying to come up with something for dinner, I thought of some kind of a turkey pesto. Tim thought it sounded promising, and suggested tomato and fresh mozzarella on top, like sort of a turkey Caprese. Perfect, I thought. So we bought the ingredients, he made the homemade pesto, and went to pick up Connor, leaving me to invent the rest.

So I sprinkled the turkey cutlets with salt and pepper, spread the pesto directly on them, then coated them with Italian seasoned breadcrumbs. That turned out to be a good choice, as the crumbs really sealed in the juices and the turkey was very moist. During the last part of cooking, I topped each turkey cutlet with a thin slice of Roma tomato and some fresh mozzarella.

Now you might instantly think of serving this over pasta. But if you are trying to reduce the carbs, you won't miss the pasta at all if you use spaghetti squash instead. You already know I'm a fan from the post about Tim's mussels. But let me tell you- mixing the squash with more of Tim's homemade pesto and some freshly grated parmesan makes them out of control!

This is probably one of the most delicious meals we have had in a long time. I will attempt to leave a recipe for it, but it was one of those times when I was just "winging it," so amounts are going to be guesses. I will definitely be making this one again!

Turkey Caprese with Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash
Olive oil, butter
Salt and pepper
4 turkey cutlets
Homemade or store bought basil pesto
3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan
4 thin slices Roma tomato
8 thin slices fresh mozzarella
More pesto and parmesan
Parsley for garnish

Cut squash in half lengthwise. Rub inside of each half with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast rind side up in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix breadcrumbs and parmesan in a pie plate. Sprinkle turkey with salt and pepper. Spread pesto on one side of turkey, then press into breadcrumb mixture until well coated. Repeat with other side of turkey, pressing more crumbs into both sides if necessary. Heat about 3 T each butter and olive oil in a non-stick pan on med-high. Add turkey. Flip when there is a nice crisp, brown coating. Cook for about 2 minutes, then turn heat down to med-low. Top each turkey cutlet with a slice of tomato and 2 slices of mozzarella. Cook until turkey is done and cheese is melted.
Meanwhile, scrape spaghetti squash in long strands into a bowl. Toss with desired amount of pesto and parmesan. To serve, put desired amount of spaghetti squash mixture on plates with tongs, then top with turkey. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.