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Pork Tenderloin And Cannellini Beans

Pork Tenderloin and Cannellini Beans

 If you’re looking for an easy, delicious way to serve a crowd (Election Day comfort food perhaps?) that’s also healthy and reasonably priced, pork tenderloin is your answer. 

I love any cuts of pork, particularly the shoulder, which is loaded with fat, resulting in savory meat that falls off the bone. That, however, takes 12 hours to cook with this recipe, if you’re interested.
I’m more likely to buy the tenderloin when time is a factor, and even though it’s so lean, with proper seasonings and accompaniments, it can be just as satisfying as the fattier cuts of pork.
After seeing an Instagram photo from my friend Domenica of her cannelloni beans soaking, I was inspired to do the same as an accompaniment to the pork.
  I’ve had friends say that they made dried beans that ended up too hard, probably from not cooking long enough. That’s happened to me too and the way I prepare them now to avoid that is this way:
Wash the beans and drain them, then put into a pot with water about one inch above the beans and bring to a rolling boil for a couple of minutes. Skim off the scum that forms. Turn off the heat and let the beans sit in the water overnight.
The next morning, drain the beans, add fresh water to cover, plus a few squirts of olive oil and some fresh sage. Let the beans simmer for two hours, then turn off the heat and let the beans sit for a few more hours.
Come back to the beans before you’re ready to serve them and test for doneness. They should be soft enough now, but if not, cook a little longer. Drain the beans again, saving some of the cooking liquid.
Place a healthy amount of olive oil (1/4 cup or so) on the bottom of a clean pot, add as much minced garlic as you like (I like a lot); briefly soften over mild heat, then add the beans back to the pot, to reheat. At this point, season them with salt and other herbs of your choosing – sage and/or rosemary are nice here. (don’t add the salt before the beans are soft or it will impede the cooking). Add a little more olive oil if you like (a few tablespoons), and some of the reserved cooking liquid if they seem too dry (but not too much, since you’re going to have more liquid from the roast to drizzle on later).
 I flavored the beans using some of the seasoned salts I made from some of the herbs growing in my garden – thyme, sage, rosemary, lemon balm and bay leaf. If you’ve still got herbs growing in your garden, it’s not too late to make the salt. It makes a great hostess gift. Just cut the herbs, dry them on a cookie sheet and after a few days, put them in the food processor with some coarse salt. I used a salt from Sicily that I got from Gustiamo.com, but you could also use kosher salt.
The salt is fantastic on vegetables, fish and meats – in this case the pork tenderloin. Just slather some Dijon mustard on the pork, then sprinkle on a generous amount of the seasoned salt and a good grinding of fresh black pepper.
Cover it with aluminum foil, and roast at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes – 1 hour. Remove from oven and let it rest for 15 minutes. Reserve the liquid to pour over the roast later (Before serving it, I whirred it with a stick blender to make it more homogenous.)
Arrange the beans on the bottom of the serving dish, then place the sliced pork on top. Just before serving, pour the heated sauce on top. It’s tender enough to eat with just a fork, and it’s so easy and delicious, it’ll become one of your go-to recipes.

Cannellini beans and pork tenderloin
printable recipe here


Pork Tenderloin
Smear pork tenderloin with Dijon mustard, then sprinkle on freshly ground black pepper and seasoned salts. (If you don’t have seasoned salts, use some kosher salt and sprinkle on herbs de Provence, or use minced fresh rosemary, sage or a combination of herbs.)
Roast covered at 400 degrees for 45 minutes-one hour. Remove from oven and let it rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the liquid from the pan, strain it and whir it with a stick blender to homogenize it (or use a whisk if you don’t have a stick blender).

Arrange the cooked beans on the bottom of a serving dish, then slice the meat and place it on the beans. Finally, reheat the liquid and pour it over all the meat and beans.

Cannellini Beans
Wash the dry beans and drain them, then put into a pot and bring to a rolling boil for a couple of minutes. Skim off the scum that forms. turn off the heat and let the beans sit in the water overnight.

The next morning, drain the beans, add fresh water to cover, plus a few squirts of olive oil and some fresh sage. Let the beans simmer for two hours, then turn off the heat and let the beans sit for a few more hours.
Come back to the beans before you’re ready to serve them and test for doneness. They should be soft enough now, but if not, cook a little longer. Drain the beans again, saving some of the cooking liquid.
Place a healthy amount of olive oil (1/4 cup or so) on the bottom of a clean pot, add as much minced garlic as you like (I like a lot); briefly soften over mild heat, then add the beans back to the pot. to reheat. At this point, season them with salt and other herbs of your choosing – sage and/or rosemary are nice here. (don’t add the salt before the beans are soft or it will impede the cooking). Add a little more olive oil if you like (a few tablespoons), and some of the reserved cooking liquid if they seem too dry.

 

 Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I’m cooking up each day.
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Halibut In Tomato Sauce With Beans

Halibut In Tomato Sauce with Beans

 One of my favorite fish is halibut. It’s got a delicate, sweet taste, firm white flesh, and marries well with all kinds of flavors. Even people who claim to hate fish may be won over once they try this largest of all the flat fish.
Did you know that halibut can grow to more than 8 feet long and weigh as much as 700 pounds? Take a look at the largest Alaskan halibut ever caught by sport fishermen, weighing in at 459 pounds. Imagine cleaning that whopper.
Most of the halibut we eat here in North America comes from the Gulf of Alaska. While on a trip there several years ago, I ate a lot of halibut, but here in New Jersey, the price keeps me from enjoying it as much as I’d like. If I see it on a restaurant menu, it’s likely what I’ll order, or if it’s on sale at the market, I can’t resist.

 

This recipe is a one-dish meal that’s simple to make, tastes great and is low-cal too. If you can’t find fresh halibut, or want something less expensive, codfish can easily be substituted. The recipe is for two portions, although the accompanying photo shows just one portion served in a small casserole.


Halibut with Cannellini Beans
for two people:
halibut – between 3/4 and 1 lb., skin removed
6 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T. olive oil
1 can cannellini beans (about 15 ounce can), drained and rinsed
1 can chopped tomatoes (about 15 ounce can)
1/4 cup dry white wine
salt, pepper to taste
fresh basil

 

 

Saute the scallions and onions in the olive oil until softened. Add the tomatoes and liquid from the can and cook for a few minutes, smashing the tomatoes a bit with a fork. Add the white wine, the cannellini beans, salt, pepper and shredded fresh basil. Simmer for about five minutes, then add the fish. Put a lid on the skillet, then let everything cook together for about five more minutes. That will be long enough to cook the fish. Garnish with more fresh basil and serve.
Field Of Greens

Field of Greens

Readers of this blog (or fellow foragers) may recognize the wild greens growing in the field above. I’ve written about them (with recipes) here and here. It’s something any self-respecting Italian knows about. My parents taught us to forage for them when we were kids, and they have a flavor similar to broccoli rape. But they’re even better — and they’re free for the taking!!
Typically, these greens grow sparsely in fields and along roadsides and it takes a while to find enough to make a meal. But there’s a bonanza growing in a field near me,  as my late husband discovered a few years ago at this time of year. They’re ready for the picking right now — a couple of weeks earlier than usual — so I hightailed it out there and came home with three bags full to put in the freezer.  Here’s what they look like close up:
 Search the fields and along roads near where you live for these greens called Winter Cress, also referred to as wild mustard greens. Pick the ones that have tight buds, not the ones with the yellow flowers. When they’re in full bloom, they provide beautiful landscapes (especially in Italy and along the Southern California coastline), but they’re bitter and tough once the flowers emerge.

 

You can saute them in a little olive oil to retain all the nutrients, or you can blanch them first, then drain them, and proceed to saute them in a little olive oil, garlic and red pepper. The blanching takes away some of the bitter flavor but still leaves a lot of vitamins. In order to store them in the freezer, blanching is necessary. I boil water in a couple of giant canning pots, and I place a huge bunch into each pot, stirring it around for a couple of minutes. Drain the greens into a colander, then quickly transfer the greens to a bowl of cold water to bring down the temperature. Squeeze the greens to remove excess water, making little bunches to put into plastic bags. Repeat the process, refreshing the boiling after using it twice, otherwise you won’t get the harshest bitterness out of the greens. (Trust me, they’ll still have some bitterness even with the blanching.)
Place the greens in plastic freezer bags, in portions of two, four or whatever you like. Then store in the deep freeze and you’ll have them all winter long.
I still had a few bags from last spring, so I defrosted them and made this for dinner a few nights ago – beans and greens – perfect for any day, but especially for a Friday during Lent. Take note of the fork in the dish – it’s more than 40 years old and is the work of my grandfather. I have a couple of them that he “shaped” at my house when he would come to visit. He had a penchant for bending the tines of forks, maybe to get more in his mouth. But you know what? I have found them to be extremely useful in smashing beans and other foods, and stirring items in a saute pan. Go Grandpop!

Here’s the recipe:

Beans And Greens


printable recipe here

1 can cannellini beans- about a 13-ounce can (or whatever kind of beans you like)
1 bunch of wild greens
1/4 cup minced onion or shallot
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
salt, to taste
a few shakes of red pepper
water, as needed

If the greens have been frozen, thaw them. If they’re fresh, blanch for a couple of minutes and drain. Or use them without blanching if you like your greens really bitter. Then pour some of the olive oil in a pan and saute the onions until limp. Add the garlic and soften them too. Toss in the beans and smash them partially with a fork. Add the greens to the beans, the salt, the red pepper and a little water to help everything blend together. Taste for seasoning, then cook for a few minutes to meld the flavors together. Serve with crusty bread. Wine optional.