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Dinner Rush! Mustard-Thyme Pork Chops w/ Fennel, Cucumber + Nectarine Salad

Summer is the season of the salad. We’ve all had the classics — potato, macaroni, simple green — so shake things up with this amazingly easy shaved-vegetable variation.

The secret to the texture and quickness is a trusty mandoline. An adept hand can certainly do it all equipped with a chef’s knife, but this is a good time to conquer your fear of the mighty mandoline. After all, slices on a mandoline come out perfectly every time with thin, crispy bites that are ideal for alfresco dining.

This salad is a cooler-friendly rock star on its own and will help keep you hydrated at the beach or elsewhere thanks to all of the water-packed vegetables in it. Bulk it up with some chickpeas or mustard-glazed grilled tofu and you’ve got yourself a complete vegan meal. Or serve it alongside these juicy mustardy pork chops. Summer on a plate.

Grilled Mustard-Thyme Pork Chops with Fennel, Cucumber and Nectarine Salad

Total Time: 20 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy

For the chops:
4 bone-in pork chops, about 3/4 inch thick
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped

For the salad:
1 small bulb fennel, very thinly sliced
3 Persian cucumbers, very thinly sliced
2 nectarines, halved, pitted and very thinly sliced
1 Roma tomato, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
15 leaves basil, thinly sliced
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat grill to medium-high and lightly grease grate.

Season pork chops with salt and pepper and grill until marked but not cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Combine mustard, honey and thyme. Brush mustard mixture on chops and continue grilling until pork is cooked through and mustard glaze has thickened, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Let cooked chops rest 5 minutes.

While pork is cooking, combine fennel, cucumbers, nectarines, tomato, mustard, herbs and almonds. Add vinegar and oil, toss well to combine, and season as needed with salt and pepper.

Serve grilled chops with the salad.

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, Marc Forgione and Bobby Deen, he now works on digital production for FoodNetwork.com, CookingChannelTV.com and Food.com in NYC by day and develops recipes at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following him on Twitter & Instagram at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.

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