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Home with the Lost Italian: Roast Loin of Pork with Fall Vegetables

Herb roast pork tenderloin with seasonal vegetables prepared by Tony Nasello. Dave Wallis / The Forum1 / 2
Herb roast pork tenderloin with seasonal vegetables prepared by Tony Nasello. Dave Wallis / The Forum2 / 2

Pork is the most commonly consumed meat in the world and has been a staple in the human diet going all the way back to 5000 B.C. In the past, we've featured pork with spicier dishes like Indonesian Pork Satay and Jamaican Jerk Pork, or with an Italian twist like Scaloppine of Pork Piccata or Saltimbocca. For this occasion, we looked to the season for inspiration and decided to feature pork in a way that is warm and comforting. Tony's Roast Loin of Pork with Fall Vegetables is the perfect dish for this season.

Herb roast pork tenderloin with seasonal vegetables prepared by Tony Nasello. Dave Wallis / The ForumWhile I'm traditionally a red-meat girl, I've come to appreciate the finer points of pork in recent years. We like to include this "other white meat" in our meal plan at least twice a month.

Pork is naturally high in protein and low in sodium, and is a good source of potassium and B vitamins. For the healthiest pork options, experts recommend looking for the leaner cuts like tenderloin and loin chops, but Tony wanted a bit more succulence for this recipe so he chose a loin roast instead.

When I asked him why, he had several reasons. First, a pork roast loin is typically more affordable than other cuts, and is sold as a roast in 2- to 4-pound pieces, as opposed to tenderloin, which is smaller and longer.

The next reason was flavor: Pork loin has better flavor, more juice and slices better than its cousin the tenderloin. This is because there's a thin layer of fat on top of the roast which you won't find in a tenderloin, and that's the part that brings the flavor and makes this cut juicy, tender and succulent. The majority of fat gets cooked off in the baking process, and I trimmed away the rest on my own after the roast was sliced and served.

Pork works particularly well with fall flavors, so we filled the roasting pan with chopped fennel, onion and carrots. Squash, rutabaga, turnips, parsnips and potatoes would also work well.

For this preparation, Tony browned the meat first on all sides to create a seal around the roast and keep the juices in. Next, he coated the top of the roast with a layer of Dijon mustard for added flavor, and followed that with a mixture of fresh herbs and seasoning.

Transfer the roast to a shallow baking pan or dish, and surround it with the chopped vegetables and a cup of dry white wine. The wine will evaporate as the roast bakes, and will infuse both the meat and the veggies with wonderful flavor.

We baked our roast loin of pork in a 400-degree oven for about 50 minutes, until its internal temperature reached 160 degrees, which ensured that the meat was thoroughly cooked but still juicy. We let the roast rest for just five minutes and then carved it into ½-inch slices which we transferred to a serving platter along with the cooked vegetables.

When we were working on the Chunky Butternut Bacon Soup recipe featured last week, we both thought that it would be a great side dish with pork as the main course. We sampled the two together, loved the pairing and are now looking for a couple more good dishes to round out this autumn menu. Stay tuned, because I have a feeling that potatoes and apples could be up next.

Roast Loin of Pork with Fall Vegetables

Serves 4 to 6

Pork Roast Ingredients

2 pounds boneless pork loin roast

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped

1½ teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1½ teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped

½ teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Vegetables Ingredients

4 medium carrots, washed and peeled, cut on the bias into slices ¼-inch thick

2 medium yellow onions, large diced

1 fennel bulb, stems removed, rough cut into large pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 cup dry white wine

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the finely chopped sage, rosemary and thyme with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a frying pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, brown the pork on all sides until golden brown all over, about 2 minutes per side with a little extra time on the top layer. Set aside to cool for a couple of minutes.

Brush the top of the roast with an even layer of Dijon mustard, and follow that with an even coating of the fresh herb mixture.

In a separate frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and then saute the carrots, onions and fennel until slightly brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Place the roast in the center of a roasting pan or baking dish and surround with the sautéed vegetables. Pour one cup of dry white wine over the vegetables and bake in a 400-degree oven for about 50 minutes, until golden brown with an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Let pork rest for 3 to 5 minutes (maximum), cut into half-inch thick slices and serve.

"Home With the Lost Italian" is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owns Sarello's in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 10-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at dine@sarellos.com and their blog at www.thelostitalian.areavoices.com.

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