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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Moroccan Pork Loin
Try this intense spice rub 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. We recommend serving it with Athenian Couscous Salad.
Servings: 4 (249 g )
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 4 hours
- 2 lbs. pork tenderloin or sirloin roast, trimmed
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1½ tsp. cumin
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- In a small bowl, combine the spice rub ingredients. 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 375ºF. Line a small, shallow roasting pan with foil and place the onions down. Place the pork tenderloin on top of onions and roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 155ºF (35-45 minutes).
- Remove the pan from the oven, move the meat to a plate and cover with foil. Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Slice thinly and serve with the onions and pan juices.
Athenian Couscous Salad
Make this salad as part of a meal prep day to give it time to marinate in the fridge before serving. Top it with whatever protein is easy to round it out as a meal. Leftover chicken, a boiled egg, or some canned low-sodium beans are great choices to turn it into a real meal. Pair it with this Moroccan Pork Loin for a special treat.
Servings: 8 (165 g )
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 3 hours
- 1 (14.5 oz) can low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup couscous
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 2 green onions, minced
- ½ cucumber, peeled and diced
- ½ cup minced parsley
- 3 oz. reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled
- 4 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. minced fresh oregano
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
- Bring the broth and couscous to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and set aside until the broth is absorbed (5 minutes). Set aside to cool.
- Gently stir the tomato, spinach, green onions, cucumber, parsley, and feta into the cooled couscous.
- Combine the dressing ingredients in a small jar. Cover and shake well to blend. Pour over the salad, mixing well.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour to meld flavors. Bring 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.