Friday, May 11, 2018

Island Pork Tenderloin Salad

Last Year's Post: Homemade Chicken Stock
Two Years Ago:   Persian Grilled Chicken with Saffron

There's a lot going on in this salad, which makes it pretty and really interesting to eat - sweet heat on the roast pork, crunch from the wonton crisps and toasted coconut, a tart lemon vinaigrette, and creamy avocado not to mention the red bell pepper and orange.  There are quite a few steps but the good news is that you can make the pork, wonton crisps and vinaigrette in advance, which just leaves you with some chopping and assembly when you want to serve the salad.

The star of the salad is the pork: coated in a rub of salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and cinnamon, then later glazed with brown sugar, garlic and Tabasco, it's a flavor explosion.

The wonton strips are dusted with the same spice combo that went on the pork, then baked until they're crisp and golden brown.  They were a revelation to me - incredibly easy to make, and very crisp and light.  The hardest part was finding the wonton wrappers in my grocery store.  I finally had to ask someone, who informed me they were in the dairy case near the vegetarian foods like tofu.  What?  I've seen them in the produce section in other stores which makes no sense either.  In any case, they're refrigerated so that gives you a place to start.

I love this kind of composed salad because it's healthy, pretty, and really interesting to eat.  I hope you like it too.

Island Pork Tenderloin Salad
Serves 4-6

Note: the pork tenderloin may be roasted up to a day in advance and refrigerated, tightly wrapped.  The wonton crisps may be made a day or two in advance and stored in an airtight container.  The vinaigrette may be made a day or two in advance and stored refrigerated.

Spice Mix and Pork:
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pork tenderloin (1 – 1 ¼ pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced or grated garlic
1 tablespoon Tabasco

Wonton Crisps:
8-10 wonton wrappers
1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt

8-10 cups baby lettuces
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 small avocados, peeled and sliced

Preheat the oven to 350d.

Combine the salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Reserve half the spice mix for the wonton strips, and use the remaining spice mix to coat all sides of the pork tenderloin.  Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, then brown pork on all sides, about 1 minute per side.  Leave pork in skillet.

For the glaze, stir together the brown sugar, garlic and Tabasco and spread on top of the pork tenderloin.  Roast in the middle of the oven until the pork reaches 140d, about 20 minutes.  Let rest for 10-15 minutes.

Turn the oven to 475d.

For the wonton crisps, stack the wonton wrappers together and cut into ¼” strips.  Place the strips in a bowl, peeling the individual strips apart, then drizzle in the 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add some of the remaining spice mix and carefully toss with your hand.  Taste one of the strips to decide if you want to add more spice mix.  Spread the wonton strips evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 4-5 minutes, stirring once, until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

For the vinaigrette, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and salt in a small jar and shake vigorously (or whisk together in a small bowl).

To assemble the salad, toss the lettuces with some of the vinaigrette and arrange on plates.  Divide the orange slices, red bell pepper strips, coconut flakes, pineapple, avocado and wonton strips between the plates.  Thinly slice the pork and add to each plate.  Drizzle each plate with additional vinaigrette and serve.

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