Two Years Ago: Pork with Fennel and Caper Sauce
As far as pork goes, the tenderloin tends to be my cut of choice because it doesn't dry out and become tough and chewy like larger pork roasts or pork chops often do. Being a big fan of all things Costco, I particularly like their pork tenderloins because they're excellent quality, don't have any injected chemicals or liquids, and of course they're less expensive than anywhere else on the planet. As a result, I tend to have several pork tenderloins in the freezer at any given time and am always on the lookout for new and interesting ways to use them.
Besides being delicious and healthy, this pork tenderloin salad has several other advantages: you can serve it cold or at room temperature (or theoretically hot, although that wasn't the original intent), you can prepare and serve it all in one day, or break the prep up into three days as I did. If you're a planner/organizer, the three day approach works well because it's just a little bit of time each day and the pork is absolutely the best. And this salad is all about the pork - the intensely aromatic garlic and herb seasoning gives the roast outstanding flavor, while roasting and refrigerating it afterwards ensure moist, perfect slices. Although it makes a great entree salad, I could definitely see using it for a really outstanding sandwich. It's that good.
As I said, you can prepare the pork over three days by applying the rub on day one, roasting on day two, and slicing/eating on day three. Or, you could condense it into one day by applying the rub in the morning and roasting at mid-day to refrigerate for a few hours before slicing. It'll turn out great either way.
After the pork is ready, all you have to do is prep the beans and fennel, make a quick lemon salad dressing, and serve everything topped with walnuts and goat cheese. (If you don't like goat cheese, feel free to substitute feta or blue cheese, or leave it out entirely.) For those who aren't all that familiar with how to trim, core and slice fennel, it's actually very easy. Cut the skinny tops off the bulb, then cut the bulb in half. Cut out the triangular hard core with a small knife, then place each half on its side and thinly slice it crosswise.
The beans and fennel add crunch and fresh vegetable-y flavor to the salad that contrasts nicely with the soft pork, creamy cheese and rich nuts. And did I mention healthy? A winner all around.
Cold Pork Roast, Fennel and Green Bean Salad
Note: The pork should be seasoned at least a few hours in advance of cooking, or up to one day ahead. After roasting, the pork should cool to room temperature before serving; it may be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
For the pork roast:
1 (approx 1.25 lb) boneless pork tenderloin
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1.5 tablespoons roughly chopped fennel fronds, plus more for optional garnish
1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon roughly chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon roughly chopped sage
1 tablespoon roughly chopped marjoram
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the salad:
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces green beans, trimmed
2 small or 1 large head of fennel, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced
½ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
½ cup crumbled goat cheese
Season the pork generously on all sides with salt. In a small bowl, combine all the seasonings (garlic through olive oil) for the roast. Pat and rub the mixture on all sides of the tenderloin, then wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for several hours, or preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400d. Remove the pork from the refrigerator while the oven preheats. Place a rack in a roasting pan. Unwrap the pork, place on the rack, and roast for about 25 minutes until it registers 140d. Let cool to room temperature before serving. If desired, after cooling wrap and refrigerate the pork for up to 24 hours, then return to room temperature.
For the salad dressing, put garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and whisk in olive oil.
Blanch beans in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, then drain and place in an ice bath. Drain again and pat dry. Put beans and fennel in a bowl, season lightly with salt and toss with some of the dressing. Let stand for a few minutes to slightly soften the fennel.
To serve, cut pork into ¼” slices. Arrange pork, fennel and green beans on each plate; top with walnuts and goat cheese. Pass remaining salad dressing at the table.