Time was not on my side this last week. I know you know the feeling — work meetings, cat feedings, domestic chores and professional bores (c’mon, that was pretty good, right?). Point is, when it came to making dinner, it was the last thing I had time to commit to.
While tearing through the aisles of my local supermarket, I noticed one amazing improvement: They had completely remodeled the salad bar! I’m not talking a new variation on ranch dressing or shredded carrots. I’m talking a complete overhaul (much like the ones I see in other bigger cities when I’m traveling with production crews). They had added new, lighter dressings (like the lemon one I used here), more vegetable variety and — best of all — precooked grains. While the pick of this week was wheat berries, they told me they’re also cycling in quinoa, farro, bulgur and barley. What a hearty and delicious timesaver!
Pairing a quick-cooking piece of protein like a pork tenderloin with the helping hand of fresh, natural and already prepared ingredients from the salad bar is definitely an ace in the hole I won’t soon forget. Just goes to show you that it pays off to explore your local store a bit — they’re always adding in something new.
Glazed Pork Loin With “Salad Bar” Salad
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
For the Glazed Pork Loin:
1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
2 (1-pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
For the “Salad Bar” Salad:
2 cups prepared grain, such as farro, wheat berry or quinoa
2 cups greens, roughly chopped as needed, such as spinach, rainbow chard or kale
1/4 cup pitted black olives, roughly chopped
1/4 cup prepared vinaigrette, such as lemon, balsamic or sesame-ginger
Salt and ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat with the oil. Season the pork liberally with salt and pepper, and sear it in the skillet until deep golden brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes total.
While the pork is searing, in a small bowl stir together the Sriracha, hoisin and apricot preserves. When the pork is brown on all sides, slather both pieces with the prepared sauce. Transfer the skillet to the hot oven and finish roasting the tenderloins until cooked to your liking, about 12 minutes for medium.
While the pork is in the oven, in a large mixing bowl combine all of the ingredients for the salad. Season as needed with salt and pepper.
To serve, thinly slice the pork and plate it up alongside the salad.
NOTE: Like I said earlier, my local market is cycling out the offerings of its salad bar based on what’s seasonal and available. That works perfectly with this quick and hearty salad, which can really be made with any combination of things you like.
Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary teams for Food Network stars Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, Bobby Deen and Paula Deen, he now works as a food stylist and producer in NYC by day and a food writer and recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following his latest tweets on Twitter at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.