This tastes like a head start on summer, with no outdoor grill required. The vegetable prep might keep you busy straight through the tenderloin's cooking and resting time, but think of it as a zen-of-chopping exercise: a good way to wind down from a mentally challenging workday.
If you're making this for four, you'll probably have enough meat, vegetables and pesto for lunch the next day. The salad won't be crisp but will still be quite enjoyable. And this meal is just as good served cold as warm.
If you're not worried about the clock, take the time to make the pesto by hand, using a mortar and pestle, which creates a looser, rustic texture.
Servings: 4 - 6
- 2 pounds pork tenderloin, rinsed and patted dry
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 to 1 cup olive oil
- 1 bunch basil leaves, washed
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 large clove garlic, smashed
- 2/3 cup shavings Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 small carrots, peeled and trimmed
- 2 small zucchini, trimmed
- 1 seedless English cucumber, peeled and trimmed
- 3 ribs celery, trimmed
- 1/2 small red onion, halved and cut into very thin half-moon slices
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Trim the silver skin and any excess fat from the pork tenderloins; cut in half lengthwise to create 4 smaller tenderloins. Lightly season with salt and pepper to taste.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat until the oil is almost smoking. Add the tenderloins and cook for 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides and cooked through. Transfer to a plate to rest for 5 minutes, then cut into thick or thin slices.
While the meat is cooking, make the pesto and prep the vegetables: Combine the basil, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor. Pulse two or three times to coarsely chop. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. With the motor running, add the remaining oil in a slow, steady stream, just until combined. (The pesto should not be smooth.) Transfer to a small serving bowl and set aside.
Cut the carrots, zucchini, cucumber and celery into very thin strips (julienne) and combine in a medium bowl. Add the onion and vinegar, and add salt to taste. Toss to combine.
To serve, divide the vegetable mixture among individual plates (about 1 cup per person; reserve the rest for lunch the next day). Fan some tenderloin slices on the plates and drizzle with pesto.
Adapted from "Pork & Sons," by Stephane Reynaud (Phaidon, 2007).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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