Each year my friends Nancy and Andy raise a couple of pigs on their farm: one for their family and one for ours. Nancy’s 8 year-old daughter is a master pig scrambler, selecting the first piglet at the Monmouth Agricultural Fair and then we buy another one to round out the pair. They’re fed on culled fruits and vegetables from our gardens and the produce section of our local supermarket and natural grains provide them with the protein they need. It only takes three or four months for them to balloon from puppy-sized piglets to the 125 pound finished product. By the time the snow flies, the freezer is packed with the most wholesome pork we can source. It feels great to know that our food is raised humanely, naturally, and locally, and the finished product is super lean and tasty.
But using up that much meat—in addition to the chickens we raise and the local beef we buy—can be a challenge, and it inspires me to seek out new ways to keep it interesting. Eight or ten years ago I adapted a recipe from a cooking magazine for a Moroccan Pork Loin for my catering business; it’s an exciting way to spice up the tender but bland tenderloin and sirloin cuts of pork. After marinating in an easy olive oil and spice paste, the meat is cooked on a bed of sliced onions. And while the meat benefits from a soak in the spices, you can very well skip that step and do the recipe start to finish with good results and have a tasty and healthy meal on the table in about an hour.
Guiding Stars Web Community Specialist Jaica Kinsman provided the perfect foil for the Moroccan pork loin, a light, bright, and veggie-intense Athenian Couscous Salad, very similar to the Wheat Berry Salad we featured recently on this website but even easier to put together. The combination of the smoky cinnamon-cumin spice mix on the pork, the sweet onions that form the cooking base for the meat, and the colorful, tart, and texturally-exciting salad form a healthy and impressive dish that I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to serve to any of my clients, let alone my family and friends.
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Try this intense spice paste on pork or chicken. A little goes a long way, so don’t overdo it. Instead, give the meat a chance to absorb the rich, complex flavors.
Servings: 4 (309 G )
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
- 1 2-3 pound natural pork tenderloin or sirloin roast, trimmed of fat and connective tissue
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 large white onions, halved and sliced
- Extra olive oil, for drizzling
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, cumin, cinnamon, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper and stir until combined. Spread the mixture onto the pork tenderloin, coating all sides, and place pork in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours to marinate.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the sliced onions in a small shallow roasting pan, season lightly with salt and pepper, and drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Toss to coat evenly. Place the pork tenderloin on top of the bed of onions and garlic and roast for 35-45 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 155 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven, remove the meat to a heated plate, and cover loosely with foil to allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Slice thinly and serve with the onions and pan juices.
This salad starts as the base and let’s you be creative as you add your favorite meats and vegetables to become a delicious entrée.
Servings: 8 (231 G )
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 5 Minutes
- Ingredients for Salad
- 1 3/4 cups (14 1/2 ounce can) low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup couscous
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, coarsely diced
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 2 thin green onions, finely minced
- 1/2 cucumber peeled, coarsely diced
- 1/2 cup finely minced parsley
- 3 ounces low-fat feta cheese, finely crumbled
- Ingredients for Dressing
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 10 grinds fresh black pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Put the broth and couscous into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside 5 minutes, until the broth is absorbed. Transfer the couscous to a bowl and cool. When cool, break apart the lumps with your fingers.
- Add the tomato, spinach, green onions, cucumber, parsley, and feta to the couscous.
- Put the lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, and cayenne into a small jar. Cover and shake well to blend. Pour over the salad, mixing well.
- Refrigerate; bring the salad to room temperature before serving.
About the Expert Chef
Guiding Stars Expert Chef Erin Dow balances three food worlds. As a mother of three young children, she’s fighting the battle every parent faces: how to keep her kids interested in the foods that keep them healthy. As the chef and owner of her catering company Eatswell Farm, she utilizes original recipes and techniques–focused on enhancing the enjoyment of locally-sourced ingredients–to best interpret the client’s vision. And as Consulting Executive Chef for Falmouth-based Professional Catering Services, a business specializing in production and backstage catering for concerts, she develops and executes menus that accommodate the strict nutritional requirements of the music industry elite. Erin and her family raise their own chicken for meat and eggs, have dabbled in pastured Narragansett turkeys, and have a very weedy but very large and productive garden.