Stuffed Pork Tenderloin topped with Pancetta

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, Pancetta

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin is one of the ultimate comfort foods. As a pork lover, this is tops in my book. The pork is delicious, the pancetta topping cooks up crisp, which adds a crunchy layer of texture, and it presents well too. It looks as though you worked so hard to make this roast, but in reality it is very easy.

As some of you know, this is the first post I have written in quite some time. My family and I were busy moving. We downsized from our home of almost 30 years to an apartment. We moved in just in time to celebrate our first Christmas in our new home, and it was truly wonderful. We spent the day together as a family, and my son and I prepared the entire meal together. This pork tenderloin was the highlight of the meal. We also made from scratch, taglietelle, and an apple tart to finish off the meal. Working with Andrew is always a pleasure. Well enough about us, let’s get to the recipe.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 lbs – pork tenderloin (butterflied)
Salt
Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
4 oz. Baby Spinach
Olive Oil
Bread Stuffing (see below)

Ingredients for Stuffing:
1 1/2 cups italian seasoned bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
2 tbls. Olive oil
1/2 tsp. Ground black pepper
1/4 cup Fresh Parsley
3 tbls. water

Directions:
In a medium sized bowl, combine all the ingredients and 2 tablespoons of water. Mix well.  Add more water a little at a time until the mixture is moist, but not wet, and holds together when you squeeze it in your hand.

It should hold together in your hand

Set aside until you prepare the pork tenderloin. 

Let’s prepare the pork . . .

When you buy the tenderloin, ask the butcher to butterfly it for you.  Before you stuff it, use a mallet or small heavy bottomed pot to pound it out a little just to make an even thickness throughout.  

Pork Tenderloin

Sprinkle both sides of the pork with salt, black pepper, and the Herbes de Provence.  Spread the bread crumb stuffing over the pork, leaving a small border around the edges.  Drizzle a little olive oil if you think it needs it. 

pork tenderloin, bread crumb stuffing

Top off with spinach and sprinkle with a little salt (optional). Now it is time to roll it up into a log.

Start at one end with both hands and roll tight. Continue to roll being careful to keep all the stuffing inside by tucking it in on the sides as you go. 

Top off the tenderloin with thin slices of Pancetta, overlapping the slices as you go down the length of the roll.

Use butcher’s twine to tie the rolled tenderloin before roasting it.  There are several ways to tie the twine, but I find it difficult to explain in writing how to do it, so I have supplied this link to various Youtube videos that do just that.

Drizzle a little oil on the bottom of a roasting pan and place the roast in the pan.  Bake in a preheated 375° oven for about 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145°.  All ovens are different, so I suggest you start checking the internal temperature at the 35 minute mark. If it needs more time don’t worry. As long as the internal temperature comes up to 145° it will be moist and delicious.

Let the roast rest about 4-5 minutes before slicing it, then serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.




Tofu Scramble with Potatoes, Peppers, and Spinach

 

Tofu scramble, spinach, potatoes, peppers

Tofu scramble is one of my favorite vegan dishes.  It’s easy, delicious, and versatile.  This recipe uses spinach, potatoes, and green bell peppers, but you can use any vegetables you prefer.  Kale, zucchini, and mushrooms are just a few tasty options.

You can make this for breakfast or brunch, but I like to make it for a light, healthy dinner.  I’m not vegan, as you can see from my recipes, but I do like to eat healthy and prefer not to eat meat every day. Tofu is a good protein source for those days when I want to go meatless.  I find the tofu scramble to be a full-proof vegan dish.  It doesn’t take any special skill to make it taste delicious.

Let’s get started. . .

Ingredients:
2 – tbls. olive oil
2 – cloves garlic minced
1 – large red potato
1 – large green or red bell pepper
1 – small onion
5 – oz. baby spinach
10 – oz. extra firm tofu
1/2 – tsp. cumin
1/2 – tsp. Adobo seasoning
3/4 – tsp. turmeric
1/2 – tsp. oregano
3/4 – tsp. salt
Ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
Drain the tofu and wrap it in paper towel to soak up some of the liquid. Cut the potato into thin bite sized pieces, with the skin on. Heat 2 tbls. Olive oil in a large skillet, add the potatoes, minced garlic and sprinkle with a little salt and ground black pepper.

Cook until the potatoes start to brown. Flip over to brown both sides. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

While the potatoes are cooking, dice the onion into small pieces and the green pepper into bite sided pieces. You can use any bell pepper you like.  I happened to have green peppers available, but I prefer red bell peppers.  They are sweeter and they add a nice color contrast to the dish.

Once the potatoes are browned, push them aside and add the peppers and onions.

Cook until the peppers begin to soften then mix together with the potatoes. This will take about 4 minutes.

Add the spinach and mix all together. Cover the pan with a lid until the spinach begins to reduce, which will take about 3 minutes.

Cut the tofu into cubes, then push the potato and vegetables to one side of the pan and add the tofu, leaving a space to put the spices.

Add the cumin, Adobo, turmeric, oregano and salt.

Pour about 1/2 cup water into the spices and mix until completely dissolved, then mix through the tofu, potatoes, and vegetables.

Cook about 5-6 minutes mixing occasionally.

 

Serve immediately with pita bread or any bread of your choice.

This recipe should make 4 servings, but for my family it only makes 3 servings.

Enjoy!




Chana Masala and Spinach

Chickpeas, Chana, Masala, Spinach

Chana Masala (chickpeas and spices) is a warm and delicious Indian dish. It not only is a great vegan main dish, but also makes a delicious side dish. Serve it with rice or like I prefer to do, with farro. The recipe I am sharing with you today is my own version of the dish. It is hearty, healthy and easy to make.

What sparked my interest in making this meal is a visit from my niece, Jasmine, who is vegan. Therefore, I wanted to make a nice vegan dinner for us. I usually go to the legume family when I make a meatless meal, so I decided to use chickpeas, and what better way to serve chickpeas than with Indian spices.

Well, just chickpeas for dinner isn’t enough, so I also made farro for a healthy, protein filled grain, and a zucchini, pepper, and mushroom medley to serve along with them. The recipes for all three dishes are included in this post. I hope you give this meal a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients for Chickpeas

1 – medium onion diced
2 – cloves garlic minced
1 – jalapeño or serrano pepper diced
1 – tbls. olive oil
1 – tsp. coriander
½ – tsp. garam masala
½ – tsp. turmeric
1 – tsp. ground cumin
1 – tsp. grated fresh ginger
½ – tsp. salt (or to taste)
¼ – tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 – 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 – 14 oz. cans chickpeas drained
½ – cup water
6 – oz. baby spinach
Small handful of chopped cilantro

Directions

Warm the olive oil in a heavy skillet, then add the diced onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeño. Sauté about 5-7 minutes until the onion begin to become translucent. Make a space in the skillet and add the coriander, garam masala, turmeric, and cumin. Stir into the onion mixture and cook about 1 minute more.

Next add the diced tomatoes, salt, and black pepper. Stir and continue to cook until the tomatoes start to come to a boil then add the chickpeas and water. Bring it back to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and let cook about 25-30 minutes stirring occasionally.

When the chickpeas are ready, add the spinach, stir and cover to let the spinach start to wilt. Cook about five minutes until the spinach is cooked. Add the cilantro and mix through.  Give it a taste and add salt if necessary.

While the chickpeas are simmering, you can prepare the rest of the meal. Start by cooking the farro. Sometimes it’s tricky to time everything perfectly, but you don’t have to worry with the farro because it is delicious at room temperature too.

Ingredients for Farro

1 ½ – cups farro
3 – cups water
1 – tsp. salt
½ – tsp. Herbs de Provence
2 – tbls. olive oil
½ – tsp. ground black pepper
1 – lime
Handful of chopped cilantro

Directions

Bring the water to a boil and add the farro and salt. Bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook about 15-20 minutes until the farro is al dente.

Drain the farro and return to the pot. Add the olive oil, black pepper, Herbs de Provence, and cilantro. Squeeze in the juice of one lime to brighten up the flavors. Stir and add salt if needed. Set aside until the chickpeas are ready.

To round out the meal, I also sautéed some zucchini, peppers, and crimini mushrooms. They make a perfect complement to the chickpeas and farro.

Once you have the water on to boil for the farro, you can start preparing the vegetables.

Ingredients for the Zucchini

3 – small zucchini (cut into 1” pieces)
2 – cups medium cut bell peppers (any variety you choose)
8 – oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 – tbls. olive oil
1 – tsp. adobo seasoning
2 – cloves garlic
½ – tsp. salt
½ – tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Directions

Wash and cut up the vegetables. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet along with the garlic (first smash it with the side of a large knife). Let it sauté about 2 minutes to release the flavor.  Now add the zucchini and peppers and sauté about 5-7 minutes then add the mushrooms. Season with adobo, salt, and black pepper. Stir occasionally and cook until tender; however, be careful not to overcook them. They should be tender, but still have a little crispness.

You are ready to eat. Enjoy!

Serves 4

Chickpeas, Chana Masala, Spinach, Farro, Zucchini




Lasagna Verde

Lasagna Verde

Lasagna Verde is a delicious and decadent pasta dish from Emilia-Romagna in Northern Italy. I have only been making this dish for about five years. Prior to that, I did not make lasagna because it was not my favorite pasta dish. As a matter of fact, it was not a family favorite growing up.  My mother only made it once or twice a year in the traditional Italian-American style layered with a meat sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, and pecorino cheeses, which was very good, just not a family favorite.

About nine years ago I became friends with Roberta, a young Italian woman from the region of Emilia-Romagna, in Northern Italy. The region is considered by many to be the gastronomical capital of Italy. Roberta and I worked together, and I was studying the Italian language and culture at the time, so it was common for us to discuss the food of Italy, and specifically the food of her region. Through these discussions, I learned how lasagna was made in Modena. She never actually gave me the recipe, but she did tell me how to make the béchamel sauce and what ingredients were typically used in the lasagna.

Her mother, Franca, visited her every summer in New York and usually made trays of lasagna for Roberta to keep in her freezer. One summer I was the lucky recipient of one of those trays. It was the best I had ever eaten. The layers of pasta verde (pasta made with spinach), béchamel sauce, and ragù alla Bolognese (meat sauce) blended together to form a luscious, creamy and savory pasta dish that melted in my mouth. I had ever eaten lasagna like this before. Eating her lasagna gave me the model for my own. After a few attempts, I successfully made a traditional lasagna verde that I am proud to share with you now.

The recipe I am sharing with you is entirely made from scratch, including the pasta. You can certainly choose to use store bought lasagna noodles made with spinach. It will also be delicious, although I think the homemade pasta makes it extra special. If you choose to make everything yourself, you can do it in steps. I usually make the sauce a couple days before I plan to make the lasagna. If you choose to make it farther in advance you can freeze it. The pasta can be made the day before and kept in the refrigerator until the next day when you are ready to make it. This way you don’t have so much to do all at once. I suggest, though, that you make the béchamel sauce the day you assemble the lasagna.

What you need…

Bolognese Sauce:  The first thing you need is the Bolognese sauce (meat sauce). I have already posted Ragù alla Bolognese in another post, so instead of repeating it in this post, just click here for the recipe.

Béchamel Sauce: I have also posted Béchamel sauce previously. You can find it under Essential Recipes here.

Parmesan Cheese (I recommend Parmigiano Reggiano)

Next you need to make the pasta.

Spinach Pasta:
This pasta is used to make the sheets for the Lasagna Verde.  You can also use this pasta for ravioli or tagliatelle (ribbon-cut pasta).

Ingredients:
4 – oz. fresh baby spinach
2 ½ – cups all-purpose flour
3 – eggs
1/4 – cup water
1 – tsp. salt

Directions:
Add a couple tablespoons of water to a large skillet, and add the washed baby spinach and sprinkle a little salt over it. Cook over a medium flame for about 2 minutes until the spinach is tender. Drain the spinach in a colander and set aside to cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, use paper towel or a clean dishtowel in which to roll the spinach and wring out the excess water. Next, on a cutting board, chop the spinach into tiny bits or use a food processor to chop finely.

Place the flour on a large board or your countertop and make a well in the center. (You can use a large mixing bowl if you prefer.)

Add the eggs, water and salt into the center of the well.

Take a fork and whisk the eggs until the yolks are broken, then add the spinach.

Continue to whisk the egg and spinach mixture, and gradually incorporate some of the flour into it with the fork. Once you have incorporated enough flour to make a sticky dough, you can start to mix the dough with your hands.

Once the dough takes form (if using a bowl), turn the dough out onto a floured, flat surface and knead the dough until it feels smooth and silky. Add flour as needed.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before rolling out the noodles.  You can keep the dough in the refrigerator overnight for use the next day if you choose.

While the pasta is resting in the refrigerator you can make the Béchamel sauce.

Time to assemble the Lasagna

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Once it comes to a boil, add a teaspoon of salt.

Remove the pasta dough from the refrigerator and knead on a floured surface for about one minute.  Cut the dough into four or five pieces.  With a rolling pin roll out one piece of dough in order to put it through the pasta machine.

Be sure to put a little flour on the rollers of the pasta machine before you insert the dough. Put the setting on number 1 and pass the dough through twice, then move on to setting number 2, then 3 and so on until you reach setting number 6.  This will give you the right thickness for the pasta sheets.

Lay the finished sheet on a floured surface until you have rolled out all of the dough.

Cut the longest pieces in half and place the two pieces in the boiling water. Stir so that the pasta does not stick together.  Let come back to a boil and cook about 4 minutes. Remove the pasta and place on a clean dish towel.

Place a little sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Measure and cut the cooked pasta to fill the bottom of the dish.

Put several spoons of sauce on top of the pasta and spread it evenly.

Next pour some Béchamel sauce and spread evenly, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Repeat the process until you fill the dish, which should be 5 layers.

Cover with foil and bake in a preheated 375° oven for one hour. Check after 45 minutes and remove foil. Cook until it get golden brown and bubbly.

Let rest at least 30 minutes before serving.

Buon appetito!




Stuffed Zucchine with Riced Cauliflower, Spinach and Sausage

 

Zucchine and cauliflower are two wonderful summer vegetables.  What better way to enjoy both than to stuff one into the other.  This recipe is easy, nutricious, and delicious.

Riced cauliflower makes the perfect base for the stuffing because it easily absorbs the flavors from the ingredients you add to it.

While this recipe is heavy on vegetables, it is also enhanced with flavorful Italian sausage.  You can easily make this a vegetarian dish by substituting the sausage with beans for added protein, and use vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock.

Ingredients:
2 – medium zucchini (approx. 8″ long)
1 – small head cauliflower
1 – cup chicken broth
8 – oz baby spinach
3 – cloves garlic
1 – tsp. Adobo Seasoning
1 – tsp. oregano
1/4 – tsp. salt
1/2 – cup pecorino romano cheese
3 – italian sausage links
Olive oil
Ground black pepper

Directions:
Rinse the zucchini and pat dry.  Cut off the ends and slice it down the middle lengthwise. With a spoon, scrape out the seeds in the center to make a pocket to hold the stuffing.

Place the zucchini halves in a baking dish and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt, ground black pepper, and oregano.  Place in a pre-heated 375° oven to pre-cook for 15 minutes while preparing the stuffing. Remove from oven until stuffing is ready.

While the zucchine pre-cooks, remove the leaves from the cauliflower, rinse and cut into small pieces. To turn the cauliflower into rice sized pieces you can either grate it on a box grater or use a food processor with the grating blade.

Once the cauliflower is riced, add it to a pot with one cup of chicken stock, the Adobo, salt, and oregano. Bring to a boil and cook on a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes until tender. Turn off heat and set aside.

While the cauliflower is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet and sautè the garlic cloves until they start to brown.  Add the spinach and stir to coat all the leaves with the oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and cook until tender, about 2 minutes.

When the spinach is ready, remove it from the skillet and set aside.

Remove the sausage from its casing and add a little olive oil to the same skillet.  Crumble the sausauge and cook until no longer pink.

Now combine the cauliflower, spinach, sausage, and pecorino cheese and mix well.

Stuff the zucchini with the cauliflower mixture. Sprinkle the top with some more pecorino cheese.

Return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the zucchini is fork tender and the top is lightly browned.

You can serve it with a side of marinara sauce, but it is not necessary.

Serve immediately.




Farfalle with Pesto

Pesto, Parfalle, Pasta
Farfalle al pesto

Traditional Pesto alla Genovese is made with seven specific ingredients, basil Genovese, Ligurian extra-virgin olive oil, pine nuts, parmigiano reggiano, pecorino cheese, garlic, and salt.

There are, however, many variations of pesto that are delicious. I find a mixture of vegetables and nuts make a delicious alternative to the original recipe.  You can use basil, spinach, kale, and parsley; whatever you have available.  Pesto is a great after work dinner choice or for those impromptu guests. It is easy and fast to make, and it also freezes very well. I’m sure you have had to buy a large bunch of basil in your local grocery store when you only needed a handful. Basil, unfortunately, does not last long in the refrigerator. It has been my experience that even when it is put in water, it wilts within 24 hours. So, every time I have too much basil I make pesto and freeze it.

You can freeze about one cup servings that will be the perfect amount for one pound of pasta. To freeze the pesto, spoon one cup, of it into a small glass or plastic container that can go into the freezer. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pesto to keep out the air so that it will not oxidize. You can keep it in the freezer for up to six weeks.

Ingredients:
1 – lb. Farfalle pasta
1 – cup packed basil leaves
1 – cup packed baby spinach leaves
2 – cloves garlic
1/4 – cup walnuts
1/4 – cup almonds
1/8 – cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 – tsp. salt
1/4 – tsp. fresh ground black pepper
Pecorino Romano Cheese or Parmiggiano Reggiano

Directions:
In a food processor, blend the nuts and garlic until finely ground. Add the basil and spinach leaves. As you blend the leaves add the olive oil a little at a time until creamy. If it seems too dry add a little more oil. Add salt and black pepper.  I do not add the cheese to the pesto, but add it instead to the pasta when I put it together.  Set the pesto aside until the pasta is ready.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once it is boiling, add 1 tsp. salt and the pasta. Stir so that the pasta does not stick together. Bring back to a boil and cook according to the package instructions. If you want the pasta al dente  (a little firm to the bite), then check the pasta about 2-3 minutes before the time directed.

In a large serving bowl, add 1/2 cup of the pasta water and the pesto. Mix together. Drain the pasta, but be sure to save one additional cup of the pasta water in case you need it. Add the pasta to the pesto and mix. Add the cheese. If the pasta seems too dry, add a little more pasta water. Serve Immediately.

Buon appetito!




Saag Paneer – Creamy Spinach and Cheese

img_0864

Saag Paneer is a great vegetarian side dish that is the perfect accompaniment to spicy Indian dishes. This recipe that follows is from Aarti Sequeira, one of my favorite chefs. You can serve it with Chicken Tikka Masala, which you can find on my blog.

Start with making the cheese.  Do not worry, it is much easier to do than you may think.

Ingredients for the paneer:
1/2 – gallon whole milk
1/4 – cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 large lemons)
1 – pkg. cheesecloth (can be found in most grocery stores)

Directions for the paneer:
Pour the milk into a large pot and heat on a medium flame until it just comes to the boiling point. Stir often to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. It will take about 12 minutes or so to do this. The milk will become frothy; do not rush the process.

In the meantime, line a large colander with the cheesecloth and place it in the sink so that it is ready when the cheese is ready.

Squeeze the lemons and strain it to remove the pulp and seeds. Once the milk is ready, turn down the heat to low and add the lemon juice. Stir in circles and you will see the milk form curds almost immediately.

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You will notice a greenish, thin liquid form. This is the whey that separates from the curds. If for some reason the curds do not form, you can add a little extra lemon juice. (I have never had that happen).

Strain the curds into the cheesecloth.

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Once the whey has drained off, rinse the cheese gently under cold water to remove the lemon.

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Gather the ends of the cheesecloth and form a ball with the curds. Twist the ends of the cloth to wring out the excess liquid. Be careful as the cheese is still hot. At this point, let the cheese drain for about 5 minutes or so.

Now the cheese should be cool. Keep it in the cheesecloth and form it into a wheel of cheese. Place it on a plate and put another plate on top, and place something heavy on top of it (like a heavy can or bowl) to flatten it a little and make it smooth. Place it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before using. Remove the cheesecloth and set aside.

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If you are not going to use the cheese right away, cover it with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. You can make the cheese the day before if needed.

Ingredients for the Saag (spinach):
12 – oz. paneer (cheese, recipe above)
1 – tsp. turmeric
1/2 – tsp. cayenne pepper
1 – tsp. salt
3 – tbls. canola or vegetable oil
16 – oz. frozen spinach
1- medium white onion
1- inch piece of fresh ginger root
4 – cloves garlic
1 – serrano chile (optional)
1/2 – tsp. garam masala
2 – tsp. ground coriander
1 – tsp. ground cumin

1/2 – cup plain yogurt

Directions for the Saag (Spinach)
First, cut the paneer (cheese) into 1/2″ cubes. Cut it carefully so that it does not fall apart. Next mix together the turmeric, cayenne pepper and salt with the oil. Add the cheese cubes to the mixture and coat evenly. Let the cheese marinate about 15 minutes. Heat a little oil in a skillet and add the cheese cubes. Cook until it becomes a little brown on both sides. Set aside while you prepare the spinach.

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Thaw the spinach. Once the spinach is thawed, use a food processor to blend the spinach into a fine chop. It is not necessary to purée the spinach.

Finely dice the onion and Serrano pepper and mince the garlic, and ginger root. Heat 2 tbls. oil in a medium sized sauce pan. Add the onion, Serrano, garlic, and ginger and sauté slowly until it becomes caramelized. Be careful not to let it burn, you can add a spoon or two of water if necessary.  Next, add the garam masala, coriander, and cumin. Stir to incorporate the spices and continue cooking for about 3 minutes. Stir often so that the spices do not burn. Again you can add a spoon of water if necessary.

Add the spinach, 1/2 cup water, and 1/2 tsp. salt and stir well. Bring to a boil and let cook about 5 minutes. Remove the spinach from the heat and add the yogurt a spoon at a time. Return the spinach to a medium-low flame and add the paneer. Stir gently so you do not break up the cheese. Cover and cook about 5 minutes more and serve.