Herbed and Grilled Mediterranean Pork Tenderloin and Veggies

It’s been a few years now since my husband and I last traveled abroad, but the memories and flavors of our favorite places along the Mediterranean Sea have stayed with us.

The colors, sights, sounds and tastes of the islands of Greece and specifically Crete, the farms and farmer’s markets in the south of France with their beautiful fresh-picked produce and the many small food purveyors tucked into the hillsides of Monaco, have informed my palette and influenced my cooking. The simple and inventive use of fresh herbs combined with lean proteins and colorful vegetables make Mediterranean flavors easy to replicate and always delicious to eat. A bonus is that eating a Mediterranean style diet is also very healthful.

With summer upon us, we fire up the grill more regularly, even during a busy work week. This is one of those “recipes” that is easy to pull together and is perfect for a busy week night. Just coarsely chop your herbs and mix with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic for the marinade, slice and chunk your veg, pop the pork tenderloin in one plastic freezer bag and the veg in another and divide your marinade between the two. Seal each bag and massage the marinade into the ingredients, then pop the bags into the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours. Grill and eat.

Simple. Delicious. Summer.

Right off the grill. Look at that bark!

The herb-centric marinade creates a fantastically herby bark on the pork tenderloin and adds loads of complimentary flavor to the veggies. Leftovers are wonderful, too. The pork makes great sandwiches and pairs well with cheeses of any type. Thin slices of pork topping a light spread of goat cheese and a touch of fig or onion jam on crostini make a quick and lovely appetizer. Extra veggies and pork can be served over greens with a light vinaigrette to make a savory salad. And the list goes on…

On your next busy night, try making this Herbed and Grilled Mediterranean Pork and Veggies, pour yourself a glass of Provençal rosé or a Greek Retsina, sit back on your deck or porch with the stars and enjoy.

Herbed and Grilled Mediterranean Pork and Veggies
Serves 4-6 (with leftovers at our house)

1 1/2 – 2 lbs. whole pork tenderloins
2 pints grape tomatoes, washed and left whole
2 large zucchini, washed, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2″ chunks (you can use a mixture of yellow squash and zucchini)
8-10 mixed sweet mini peppers, washed seeded and cut into 1 1/2″ chunks (these usually come in a package but you can sub 2-3 multi-colored bell peppers)
1 orange or red bell pepper, washed, seeded and cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
1 red onion, peeled, trimmed, halved and those halves quartered
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, divided
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme, divided
3 large cloves of garlic, minced, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2-gallon sized zip lock food bags
Grill basket or aluminum foil for the veggies

Place the grape tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, and onion in one ziplock bag. Place the pork tenderloins into a second, separate ziplock bag from the veggies.

Place one half of the rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil into each of the two bags containing the veggies and the pork. Seal each one and then gently toss and massage in the herbs, oil and seasonings with the contents of each bag until well coated. Place the bags into the refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours prior to grilling.

Heat the grill to medium high. Remove the veggies from the ziplock bag and place into a grill basket, evenly spaced, and securing the top part of the basket (if it has one) tightly so that the veg will stay secure when flipped. If your basket is an open veggie grill basket, then just place the veggies in the basket, or you can make a tray out of aluminum foil to grill the veggies in. (If using aluminum foil, make sure you use heavy duty and use two layers so that the tray can be lifted off the grill. Poke about 10 small holes into the bottom of your foil tray to allow extra moisture to drip off, otherwise your veggies will stew in their own juices instead of grilling). Place the veggies on the grill and cook until tender and slightly charred. Cooking times will vary, but it takes about 30-35 minutes on our charcoal grill alternating covered and open, and flipping the veggies once at the halfway point. If you use an open basket or a foil tray, stir the veggies frequently to help them release moisture through the holes and cook evenly until done.

Just before the halfway point of cooking your veggies, remove the pork tenderloins from the ziplock bag and place them on the grill. Grill the tenderloins until desired degree of doneness, turning occasionally, about 16-20 minutes. When done, remove the tenderloins from the grill and allow to rest 5 minutes before slicing. Slice the pork into 1/4″ medallions and serve with the veggies.

 

 

 

 

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Crustless Summer Squash, Zucchini and Tomato “Pie”

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A savory slice is oh so nice!

What a couple of weeks it has been…

This is our tree, you can see how the lightning circled it before it jumped to the chimney cap.

This is our tree, you can see how the lightning circled it before it jumped to the chimney cap.

When lightning strikes it does such weird things. Our experience has run the gamut from the usual burnout of electronics which one would expect, to the current running through the metal spines of a silk lampshade and tearing the silk out of it…which one would not expect! We’ll be repairing, cleaning soot and painting here for the next few months, and we were so lucky it wasn’t any worse.

Our chimney...8 feet of it is on the ground!

Our chimney…8 feet of it is on the ground! We sleep with our heads right next to where the chimney meets the top roof line.

Life goes on and mercifully we are here to experience and talk about it. And eventually you get back into the kitchen again and things begin to feel more normal.

Layers, layers and more layers are the key to this crustless pie.

Layers, layers and more layers are the key to this crustless pie.

Today I’m sharing a tasty and easy dish using some of summer’s bounty. This squash, zucchini and tomato pie is crustless, which makes it lighter than a traditional tart or pie, and perfect to serve as an entree with a salad or as a side dish for a meal. The “crust” in this dish is made by the slight caramelization of the bottom and sides of the squash in the oiled skillet, and the melted cheese. It holds together very well and has a wonderful, fresh flavor. I do love squash and am always looking for ways to feature it when it’s in season, and this little dish made me very happy…plus I got to use my cast iron skillet, which is always a bonus!

Pan pie, c'est tout!

Pan pie, c’est tout!

I hope you all have been doing well while I was away, and that you had wonderful and relaxing weekends and holidays. I am slowly getting around to visit all of you and catch up, so bear with me. Have a great week, and happy eating.

Crustless Summer Squash, Zucchini and Tomato Pie
Serves 4

This pie was inspired by my Squash and Tomato Galette from last year, but is much quicker and lighter because there’s no crust!

1 lb. yellow summer (I used crookneck) squash, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 large zucchini, trimmed and thinly sliced
3-4 roma tomatoes, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
zest of one lemon
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 egg
1 clove garlic, minced
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sprigs of fresh basil for edible garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in the bottom of a 10-inch cast iron or ovenproof skillet and grease the bottom and sides well.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese, the lemon zest, lemon juice, thyme, basil and egg until well blended.

Place 1/2 of the yellow squash slices into the bottom of the pan in a single layer, slightly overlapping each other. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, then dollop 1/3 of the cheese and herb mixture over the layer of squash, spreading it slightly to cover. Next, layer 1/2 of the roma tomato slices over the squash layer and sprinkle with 1/2 of the minced garlic, a pinch of salt and some pepper, and drizzle over 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil. Make a single layer of the zucchini over the tomato layer, overlapping the slices. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt and pepper, dollop 1/3 of the cheese and herb mixture on top, spreading as before.

Make one more layer of the tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil, then top with a final layer of yellow squash mixed with any remaining zucchini, salt, pepper and the remaining cheese and herb mixture. Sprinkle the top with the remaining parmesan cheese and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 35 – 40 minutes, watching closely, until the top is browned, the whole is bubbling and the vegetables are tender when a knife is inserted through to the bottom. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Cut into four wedges and serve with a sprig of fresh basil on top.

A Taste of Spring: Tomato, Orange and Tarragon Soup

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Spring has come, bloomed, and almost gone around here…at least as far as the showy display of azaleas is concerned. In April we’ve see-sawed between highs in the 80’s and 50’s to lows in the 30’s…and the 70’s! With our last cold snap most likely behind us, it’s time to lighten things up a bit, and I’ve found the perfect way to do it.

This very quick and easy soup is so delicate and delicious that you may even forget it’s ridiculously healthy, too. Tomatoes and oranges happen to love each other, and when you combine those flavors with the sweet undertones of anise in the tarragon, it’s a perfect trifecta for the happiest of soup marriages. The resulting taste is so fresh and lighthearted, filled with all the promise of Spring and Summer, and it’s quite a versatile recipe, too.

You can actually make this any time by using minimally processed and no-salt canned tomatoes, some dried tarragon and fresh orange. Or, you can make it in the summer months with freshly grown tarragon and those prized homegrown tomatoes…I just can’t wait for that time to come! Use some store-bought stock, or homemade if you have it…either vegetable or chicken stock will work just fine. Make this and eat it hot or cold. Puree it and then go for it, or strain it after the puree and add some enrichments to make it creamy and velvety!

The base recipe I’m showing you today is actually vegan, and you can decide if you want to fuss with and add to it, but we really enjoyed this “as is,” both hot and cold. Serve it by itself or with an accompaniment. No matter how you choose to enjoy it, it’s a lovely way to welcome the warmer weather with the lighter meals and fresh ingredients we so look forward to. Happy days.

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Colonel FieryAnd just for fun, here is a peek at my Camellia Japonica Colonel Fiery in all its blooming glory. He (or she as the case may be), is blooming long and late this year, and has been in continuous bloom for many weeks now.
I’ll show you more of my garden—including the azaleas you see in my new header—in my next post, but meanwhile…happy eating and Happy Spring!

*****

Tomato, Orange and Tarragon Soup
Serves 6-8

1 large clove of garlic, peeled and minced
1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1- 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes in puree, no salt added
1-14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, no salt added
2 Tablespoons double concentrated tomato paste
4 cups of vegetable stock or broth, no salt or low sodium, store-bought or homemade
Juice and zest of one orange
1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon leaves, or 2 Tablespoons fresh tarragon, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste if needed

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot or soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and the garlic and saute until the onion is tender and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and puree, canned tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, vegetable stock or broth, juice and zest of the orange, tarragon, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper, and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pot from the heat and puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender until smooth, or in batches in an upright blender. Season the soup to taste with a bit more salt and some pepper if desired. Serve this hot or cold, garnishing with a thin orange slice and a stem of fresh tarragon if you like. It will keep in the fridge for several days, and like most soups, is arguably better the next day.

At this point you have a very delicately flavored and super tasty vegan soup. If you want, you can strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve to remove any solids and obtain a silky smooth texture. You can also add enrichments to make this a cream soup with or without straining it by returning the pot of soup to low heat and stirring in 1/2- 3/4 cup of half and half or cream, or to taste, heating the soup until it is completely warmed through. I have also stirred a tiny bit of half and half or cream into a serving of this soup cold, and it was excellent!

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*****

Best-Laid Plans…Unplugged

“The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry”
~Robert Burns (paraphrased in English translation)

Did you miss me?

Wow. Two weeks have flown by since I last posted. That wasn’t my plan when, week before last, I was getting ready to leave town for a week-long Labor Day holiday (and for those of you in the U.S. that celebrate Labor Day, I hope yours was fun!). I had great visions of preparing a post scheduled to happen while I was gone, so that you’d know I was still out here and thinking of you. I had several subjects in mind, and all I had to do was upload the shots and write a quick and witty note. And while I was away, I thought that surely I’d be able to overcome the lack of consistent internet service that I always experience when we go to visit family in Alabama. I’d be able to reply to comments on this supposed post I was going to make, or at the very least be able to comment on the blogs I follow.

Ha!

Instead, not only did I not find the time to write a post before I left, but once I got out of town, the wireless internet connection on my phone and laptop was so bad that it forced being “unplugged” the entire time I was on vacation (see Barb’s note at Profiteroles and Ponytails about the advantages and necessities of unplugging now and then). Actually, that really wasn’t a bad thing after all, because quality time well-spent with family and friends is pretty hard to do with your nose in a computer! 

So here I am back home again, having had a wonderful time away and also having thrown a rather successful party while I was gone, but as yet I’m still not organized enough to pull together the post for sharing that with you. For now, rather than letting even more time go by where you might then begin to wonder if something truly catastrophic has happened, I’ll ask that you indulge me while I share a little interlude—a retrospective list of summer goodies that we’ve enjoyed, and that can still be enjoyed, given that summer isn’t truly over yet. And for those in the southern hemisphere of this planet, here are some dishes to look forward to, or to start to work on as you come into your spring and summer seasons!

I should be back in true blogging form by this weekend. In the mean time, I hope you’ll take a peek at any of these goodies that you might have missed, and I’ll be catching up on your posts that I have definitely missed, as well as preparing some new material. Have a great rest of your week, and cheers to you all! ~Betsy

Add some roasted new potatoes from the CSA alongside for a complete dinner, and I’m a happy camper!

A Better BLT

Luscious homemade peach ice cream. I mean really, can there be anything better than this? (A daylight picture perhaps?)

Just Peachy Ice Cream

Ready for the picnic, cookout or pot luck, this salad has outdoor fun written all over it!

Couscous Salad
Lentil Salad

Mom’s pretty pie awaited our return from the tour of Pond Spring…yay!

Mom’s Blueberry Pie

This photo almost ended up with the spoon in it…I couldn’t wait to taste!

Strawberry Orange Almond Crisp

Just look at that juicy, flavor-packed burger with oozy blue cheese and balsamic glazed onions. Who wouldn’t love that?

Sun dried Tomato Turkey Burgers

Mediterranean Pasta Salad finished with a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

A little veggie sammy, too.

Pan Bagnat

Summer Tomato Caprese Pie

Summer Tomato Caprese Pie
Diane’s Butterbean Salad and Fresh fruit and herb sorbets

All dressed up for dinner.

Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Tomato Pizza with Arugula

Summer Squash and Tomato Galette

I look at this and all I can think about is making the next one!

A cool spell has arrived and with it comes the promise of fall, which is my favorite time of year. The mornings of late have been cool and calm. Each day this week has been filled with tempting breezes that stir the imagination and revive the spirit. The blistering temperatures have given way to the 80’s…absolutely delightful weather. But let us not be lulled into a false sense of security, as this is but a temporary respite.

It is, after all, still August…and here in the South that means at least one more month of 90 degree plus temperatures, whether you call it summer or not! It also means that we still have some of summer’s bounty of food left to enjoy in the form of tomatoes and squash, amongst other things. Continue reading

Cool as a Cucumber

A cup of coolness, cucumber soup.

Mmmmm. This past weekend brought us some much needed rain, a few breezes and a very slight breather in the heat wave we’ve experienced this summer. But it’s still in the 90’s, and anything that has the word “chilled” as part of its name, gets my attention. We had some very pretty little cucumbers in this week’s CSA box of summer goodness, and I’ve made a quick, easy and delicious Chilled Cucumber Soup. And since my mission is to come up with delicious ways to use up all of that goodness, I made another tomato pie Saturday night—a variation on my last one that I’ll call Tomato Pie II—using a pound of red and yellow heirloom tomatoes and some beautiful organic red onions, along with some fresh basil and thyme, a little wine and some gooey-good soft goat cheese—and we had some leftover pie along with the soup, since tomatoes and cucumbers go together so wonderfully well. Continue reading

Food, Fans and Formula 1

My husband has been an Formula 1 Grand Prix racing fan for many, many years. And shortly after we got together, we had the good fortune to go to Monaco and see the Grand Prix de Monaco, my first live race. Needless to say, I, too, became a fan after seeing those amazing cars running the Monte Carlo street course in that gorgeous principality. Continue reading

Savoring Summer’s Tomatoes

Summer Tomato Caprese Pie

Tomatoes. Let me count some of the ways these wonders of summer can be used. There are BLT’s, roasted tomatoes, pastas, Caprese salad, salsas, a slice on your favorite sandwich or burger, and just plain sliced by themselves with a little salt and pepper—the versatility of the tomato is endless. Continue reading