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Pork Tenderloin with Figs and Olives

Looking for a delicious main course that’ll impress your guests, but is easy enough for an every day meal? Look no further than this pork tenderloin roast, cooked with figs and olives, a recipe inspired by my friend, Marie, whose blog, Proud Italian Cook, always leaves me hungry.

It’s near the end of fig season here in the Northeastern U.S., and if you don’t have your own fig tree, I hope you have FWF (friends with figs). My own fig tree, a new transplant that produced only one edible fig so far this year, was not up to the task, but fortunately I have a few FWFs, including my friend Dorothy, who invited me to help myself.

The recipe calls for some fig preserves, and fortunately, I still had some I made earlier in the year. But you can easily purchase fig preserves from the store.

I stewed them for a few minutes in port wine to soften them a bit. Careful not to cook them too long, or they’ll lose their shape since they cook further in the oven. Port wine and figs are a match made in heaven, but if you haven’t got port, you can use red wine, or even just water if you don’t imbibe at all. Add a cinnamon stick to the liquid for even more flavor.

Make a paste of fig preserves, garlic and some herbs and spread it over the roast. Surround it with the drained figs, scatter around some olives and sections of red onion. The first time I made this, I browned the meat, but much of the paste burned, causing me to scrape it all off. So I eliminated that browning procedure entirely the second time and it was delicious even without taking that step.

Roast it for about 20-30 minutes at 425 degrees, or until a thermometer reaches 145 degrees.

Let it rest for at least 5 – 10 minutes before slicing, then serve some of that luscious fig and port wine liquid on top.

It’s so tender and flavorful you’ll go back for seconds…. and thirds.

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Pork Tenderloin with Figs and Olives
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pork tenderloin, 1 to 1½ pounds
  • 1 dozen ripe figs, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 large red onion, sectioned in pieces
  • about ½ cup green and black olives
  • MARINADE FOR THE PORK
  • 2 tablespoons fig preserves
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon each minced rosemary and thyme
  • salt, pepper
  • POACHING LIQUID FOR FIGS
  • ½ cup port wine and ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup fig preserves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Instructions
  1. Place the port wine, water, honey, fig preserves and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat, add the figs and poach gently for about five minutes to soften and imbue the figs with more flavor.
  3. Mix the marinade ingredients together and smear over the pork in the roasting pan.
  4. Let the pork sit at room temperature with the marinade for about ½ hour.
  5. Fan out the onion sections around the pork, and also scatter the olives and drained figs in the pan.
  6. Spoon a little of the poaching liquid on the roast and place in a 425 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes or until a thermometer reads 145 degrees.
  7. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil and let it rest 5-10 minutes.
  8. If the poaching liquid is not thick enough to your liking, reduce over high heat for a bit.
  9. Slice the roast and ladle some of the poaching liquid on top before serving.
 

 

Roasted Butternut Squash And Red Onions

Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onions

 Although Italian food is my food of choice, and my cookbook shelves are lined predominantly with books from authors like Marcella Hazan, Lidia Bastianich and Domenica Marchetti, I am also a big fan of other types of cuisine – including Middle Eastern.

Cookbooks from Yotam Ottenlenghi and Sami Tamimi also feature predominantly on my shelves for their flavor combinations that are so distant, yet so wonderful, from what I grew up eating.
Someone brought this dish to a dinner party I attended a few months ago, and I found myself going back for seconds (I would have gone back for thirds, but didn’t want to appear greedy!)
When I asked for the recipe, I was told it was from Ottolenghi’s book, Jerusalem, one of my favorite cookbooks, and one that was sitting on my bookshelf all along.
I’ve since made it several times, with a slight variation. Instead of using the pine nuts called for in the original recipe, I used hazelnuts – a less expensive alternative to the costly pine nuts from the Mediterranean (for those of us who won’t buy Chinese pine nuts for various reasons – see here). Gustiamo.com sells wonderful pine nuts from Tuscany, but fair warning – they don’t come cheap.
The sweetness of the onions and squash is hard to resist after they’ve emerged from the oven, but wait until you drizzle the sauce, the nuts and herbs all over it to get the full effect. Zatar, a middle Eastern herb blend, features predominately at the end. I can find it locally at a shop in my town called Savory Spice, or at Williams Sonoma, but they’ll also sell by mail order.
The first time I made this dish, the tahini in the sauce was overwhelming to my palate, so I toned it down by adding some yogurt. In fact, I made it subsequently using only Greek yogurt and lemon juice, giving the sauce a nice tang.
It may well become your go-to vegetable dish for holidays or dinner parties.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onions
from Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
1 large butternut squash (around 1.1kg), cut into 2cm x 6cm wedges 
2 red onions, cut into 3cm wedges 
50ml olive oil
Maldon sea salt and black pepper (don’t worry if you don’t have Maldon sea salt – use kosher salt instead)

3½ tbsp tahini paste (or 1/2 cup Greek yogurt)
1½ tbsp lemon juice 
3 tbsp water 
1 small garlic clove, crushed 
30g pine nuts (I used about 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped)
1 tbsp za’atar
1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
Heat the oven to to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the squash and onions in a large bowl, add three tablespoons of oil, a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper, and toss well. Spread, skin down, on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes until the vegetables have taken on some colour and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions: they may cook faster than the squash, so may need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Put the tahini in a small bowl with the lemon juice, water, garlic and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Whisk to the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini as necessary. (I prefer a smaller amount of tahini, or sometimes eliminate it, adding about 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt to the mix)

Pour the remaining oil into a small frying pan on a medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and half a teaspoon of salt, cook for two minutes, stirring, until the nuts are golden brown, then tip the nuts and oil into a small bowl.

To serve, spread the vegetables on a platter and drizzle over the sauce. Scatter the pine nuts and oil on top, followed by the za’atar and parsley.