A “perfect” dinner…

There’s this lady food writer who kind of bugs me.  She’s very lovely (a former Wilhelmina model), she writes about healthy food alternatives (admirable), and she tries to keep things simple for busy families (good idea!). So I feel like kind of a worm for not liking her.

Maybe it’s the photos – she always stares calmly, smilingly at the camera, posed artlessly in front of a roaring fire, apple (healthy!) in hand.  She’s coiffed, but not excessively. She is slim but not scary-slim. Her menus are so virtuously planned – whole grains, leafy greens, colorful vegetables and a modicum of healthy fats in the form of olive oil, almonds or walnuts.  Why do I always roll my eyes?! Probably because in my kitchen, there is always an undercurrent of turmoil, I am always at least slightly disheveled and I have such an affinity for butter.

Anyway, given my feelings about this person, I’m not sure how I ended up trying this menu she authored – but I did.  The thing is, it was great. Sigh…Coriander roast pork tenderloin, spicy roast vegetables and brown rice with walnuts and golden raisins. Really easy and really great.  Now I really feel like a worm.  (Will I now actually try the Healthy Blueberry Muffins?! Where will this lead?)

I did make a couple of changes to the recipes though, to streamline them and also to accommodate the ingredients I had in my house. In my version there is no crushing of seeds and no seasoning of oils. It doesn’t add enough in terms of flavor and all that crushing and infusing makes for too much clean-up. I tossed the spices directly into the food. In addition, I will write it all up here in a game plan to accommodate your busy household.

Coriander Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Roast Vegetables and Brown Rice Pilaf

Game Plan:

15 minutes prep, 35 minutes cooking time

  1. Set the oven to 450 F and place a large rimmed sheet pan in the upper middle rung of the oven.  Set the other rack to the lower middle rung of the oven.
  2. Chop all the vegetables including  the onion and parsley for the pilaf.  This should take about 10 minutes.
  3. Start the rice, cooking the onion, adding rice and water and setting the heat to low.
  4. Mix up all the spices for the vegetables in a small bowl.
  5. Toss the vegetables with the olive oil and the spices and put on the sheet pan in the oven.
  6. Rub the pork with the mustard and spices ; brown in saute pan and put in the oven.  This should take 10 minutes.
  7. Toast the walnuts.

Spicy Roasted Vegetables

  • 3-4 large carrots, quartered and cut into 1″ pieces, on diagonal
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 8 or more wedges, leaving root end intact to hold the layer together
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 large head fennel, but into 8-10 wedges, root end intact to hold layers together
  • 1/2 a small butternut squash, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Place vegetables in large mixing bowl and toss with olive oil.
  2. Mix spices with 1 tsp salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over vegetables.
  3. Place vegetables on hot sheet pan in the oven for 35 minutes.
  4. Toss with more kosher salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

Brown Rice with Walnuts and Golden Raisins

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 small onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 c. brown basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts – toast in a heavy skillet over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.  They’ll smell fragrant when they’re done.  Pay close attention while toasting so they don’t burn.
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan with a lid over medium high heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the rice, stirring to coat with the oil.
  4. Add 1 1/4 c water and 1/2 tsp salt.  Bring to boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, maintaining a low simmer.  You want to be careful.  The water should simmer; too much and you will have dried-out hard grains of rice, too little and you’ll get a soggy mess.
  5. Cook until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 35 minutes.
  6. Let sit for 5 minutes off the heat and then remove lid and fluff with a fork.
  7. Stir in walnuts, raisins and parsley.

Coriander-Cumin Crusted Pork Tenderloin

  • 1 lb- 1 1/4 lb pork tenderloin
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  1. Spread the mustard over the pork tenderloin.
  2. Mix the cumin, coriander, salt and pepper and rub onto the mustard coated pork.
  3. Heat the oil in a 12 inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Brown the pork, turning it with tongs, until nicely browned – about 3 minutes per side.
  4. Put the sauté pan with the pork in the oven and roast until an instant read thermometer registers 155 F – 18-20 minutes.  Rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

I am happy to say that we all liked this dinner very much – really!  If you have family members who are sensitive to spicy foods you may want to reduce the cayenne – but honestly, it is just pleasantly warm – not searingly hot – my 2 year old loved the roasted fennel particularly.  The edges of the vegetables will be caramelized.  The raisins and walnuts add sweetness and richness to the rice.  This is fine mid-week fare on a not-crazy afternoon.  It’s actually very good – although I hate to admit it.

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4 responses to “A “perfect” dinner…

  1. It looks beautiful. It took me FOREVER to realize whom you were referring to and then, in a flash it came to me in the shower! I had to laugh at myself.

    Her recipes often need a little tweaking, I find: I do not trust them the way I trust Ina Garten, Mark Bittman, or Rick Bayless, to name three.

  2. You know it’s not Martha, right?!

  3. I don’t know who she is, but I say NEG on healthy blueberry muffins!

  4. Yeah me too. I want to make a lemon curd swirled muffin from my new cookbook!

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