This dish will give you so many things:
- Introduction to the alleged trendy Romesco
- A super speedy weeknight dinner
- The feeling that you are SO FANCY when you plate it
I am not the artistic one in my family, not by a long shot. Our house is decorated with lovely paintings from my grandma. My sister sketches to relieves stress. My husband has taught art classes. I sort of just plop things together and hope for the best, and Christopher will surreptitiously rearrange it.
This dish, however, made me feel SO FANCY. My first inclination was to serve the pork tenderloin in slices, with the Romesco just on the side. But all by itself, the Romesco was not visually appealing. So after asking myself What Would Martha Do? (WWMD, not sure why this isn’t a bracelet yet), I plated the sliced pork tenderloin on top of the Romesco and arranged the salad on top. It probably wouldn’t win me first place on MasterChef, but hey, baby steps.
This is a really simple dish. The pork tenderloin is browned on the stovetop then roasted in the oven, with a dash of salt and pepper. The watercress and roasted carrots are tossed with a little red wine vinegar to make a speedy salad.
The real star of this dish is the Romesco, a Spanish answer to pesto. Bon Appétit declared it was currently trendy, and I see no reason to disagree with them. Traditional Romesco is a red-pepper based sauce pureed with nuts and garlic. Bon Appétit subs in roasted carrots for the red peppers to make a slightly sweet, nutty spread with a kick from the raw garlic and red pepper flakes.
If you decide to be SO FANCY and make this, do not be alarmed when you are not blown away with joy by the Romesco on its own, or you nibble a bit of watercress and think “this tastes like the Fresh Rain scent if you put it in a leaf and I’m not sure how I feel about it.” Once everything is on the plate and you take a bite of the juicy, salted pork with the sweet, nutty bite of the Romesco with just a hint of fresh spice from the watercress, you will realize it has all come together beautifully. And you will feel SO fancy.
Bon Appétit, April 2014
Roast Pork Tenderloin with Carrot Romesco
Serves 4 (ALLISON’S NOTE – I know it says four, but this really serves 2.5. If you had crusty bread on the side it would probably serve 3ish).
- Pine nuts can be pricey. I had a few in my freezer, but greatly overestimated how many I had (a tablespoon) and had to sub in walnuts. I’ve done walnuts in pesto before without an issue, and it turned out just fine.
- The Romesco gets better the longer it sits, and tasted delicious the next day on a wasa cracker with avocado. Although I got a REALLY weird look from a coworker who thought I had just spread peanut butter on a cracker and topped it with avocado and lemon.
- My food processor didn’t handle the small amounts of ingredients well, merely sending the pine nuts on a merry circular journey without chopping them, so I used my immersion blender to make a smoother puree.
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 1½ pound small carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise if larger
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large pork tenderloin (about 1½ lb.)
- 1 small garlic clove, finely grated (Allison’s note: I DID NOT DO THIS. I just tossed it in the food processor whole).
- 1 tsp Aleppo pepper or ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, divided
- 2 cups spicy greens (such as watercress or baby mustard)
- Preheat oven to 350°. Toast pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes; let cool.
- Increase temperature to 450°. Toss carrots with 1 Tbsp. oil on another rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and black pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until softened and browned, 15–20 minutes; let cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt and black pepper and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown, 10–15 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and roast pork until a thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 145°, 8–10 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
- Pulse pine nuts, garlic, and remaining 3 Tbsp. oil in a food processor to a coarse paste. Add Aleppo pepper, one-fourth of carrots, 1 Tbsp. vinegar, and 1 Tbsp. water. Process, adding more water as needed, to a coarse purée; season romesco with salt, black pepper, and more vinegar, if desired.
- Toss greens with remaining carrots and remaining 1 Tbsp. vinegar in a large bowl; season with salt and black pepper. Serve pork with romesco and salad.