This salad is inspired by John Ash‘s cookbook “From the Earth to the Table.” This book features a recipe for grilled pork tenderloin over arugula & fennel with a beet & orange vinaigrette. I modified this to be a salad of spinach and arugula, with feta, toasted hazelnuts, roasted beets, fresh fennel & roasted pork tenderloin — with a balsamic-orange vinaigrette. For this week’s salad I’ve added roasted cauliflower florets, as well. Avocado is a nice addition, too. What else might you add?
First step — roast the pork tenderloin with your choice of seasonings (which could be limited to just salt and pepper). Today I chose Penzey‘s Lemon-Pepper Seasoning. This pork tenderloin came from Aberdeen Hill Farm — humanely treated pigs, allowed to graze on pastures free from chemicals, pesticides and herbicides. WHAT a difference in the flavor of the meat versus factory-raised!
I roasted the pork using the same cooking & resting times outlined in my previous post for Roasted Pork Tenderloin. Once cool, I slice and divide into 3-4 oz. portions. I keep 2 portions in the refrigerator, and freeze the rest — to pull and thaw throughout the rest of the week.
While the pork tenderloin roasted in the 400-degree Fahrenheit oven, I also roasted the beets. I scrub the beets, pierce the skin a few times (as if I am baking a potato), and roast them with the skin on — easily for an hour, until tender when a knife is inserted. I roast them on a piece of foil, to catch any juices the seep out as they roast. Once cooled, I peel them using a pairing knife, and then chop them. I save the beet greens to sauté for a different use.
While those are roasting, prep the rest of the components — chopping a bulb of fennel, if using (not everyone likes fennel like I do). You could substitute sliced sweet onion, if you prefer. And chopping some toasted nuts — I prefer hazelnuts in this salad, but toasted almonds or pecans would be equally delicious.
Next up: the Vinaigrette.
I like my vinaigrettes to be heavy on the vinegar and light on the oil, so I use:
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
- Grated or finely chopped zest of 1 orange
- 1 Tablespoon fennel seeds, ground in a spice blender (optional — not everyone likes the taste of fennel like I do)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt and several (approx 8) grinds of fresh cracked pepper
Whisk ingredients together in bowl
- 1/2 cup olive oil (or other favorite oil such as grape seed, avocado, canola)
Stream into vinegar mixture, whisking constantly to create an emulsion.
Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Store in air-tight, covered container in the refrigerator. Keeps for up to 2 weeks.
Assembly-time! I mix equal parts fresh spinach and arugula in a bowl and toss them with 1 Tablespoon of the vinaigrette.
I reheat the pork tenderloin slices in the microwave for 30 seconds — just to reheat slightly, but not to cook andy more. I mix the heated pork tenderloin slices with a small amount of the vinaigrette and add to the bed of greens.
Then garnish with the chopped fennel, sliced roasted beets, toasted hazelnuts and the salty feta cheese crumbles. For this week’s salad, I also added some roasted cauliflower florets for extra fiber.
I love the peppery arugula, with the sweet roasted beets, combined with the tangy salted feta, the balsamic vinegar with the faint background of orange, and the toasty nuts … a party of flavors!