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Roast pork tenderloin, apples and shallots for a weeknight fall feast

October 4, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.
Roasted Pork Tenderloin With Apples, Shallots and Spinach. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post.

I'm like a thermostat - as soon as the temperatures dip below 70 degrees I turn my oven on and start roasting. It's a switch I look forward to flipping every year.

Time in a hot oven transforms food - concentrating and deepening its flavors, caramelizing it and creating crispy surfaces, while cooking gently enough to slowly bring proteins to the perfect temperature. All that and, aside from the occasional toss, once the food is in the oven, it barely needs attention. This recipe showcases how roasting, combined with some stovetop cooking, easily turns everyday ingredients into a spectacularly flavorful, nourishing, autumnal meal.

To start, you place wedges of sweet apple and shallot on a sheet pan, toss with a little oil and salt, and cook until they have become soft, sweet and beautifully browned. Adding a splash of balsamic vinegar about 10 minutes before they're done imbues them with a gently tangy glaze.

While the apples and shallots cook, your hands are free to coat a lean pork tenderloin with mustard and herbs, then sear it in an ovenproof skillet on the stove. That skillet then goes into the oven until the pork reaches a blush-inside, still juicy, 145 degrees. When the pork is done and resting on a cutting board, you return the pan to the stove to create a simple sauce: Add a little broth or water to dissolve the browned bits left in the skillet, and then whisk in mustard, balsamic vinegar and honey.

Back on the sheet pan, you add handfuls of baby spinach leaves and most of the warm sauce to the balsamic-glazed roasted apples and shallots, and toss. This takes the raw edge off of the spinach leaves, but retains their fresh essence in the fashion of a warm spinach salad.

That gorgeous medley is served topped with the sliced herb-crusted pork and drizzled with the remaining pan sauce for a weeknight-friendly meal that will make you glad it's fall or, as I call it, the start of roasting season.


Roasted Pork Tenderloin With Apples, Shallots and Spinach

Active time: 35 minutes Total time: 50 minutes

4 servings

In this dish, an autumnal mix of roasted apples and shallots is tossed with handfuls of fresh spinach in a warm pan sauce, in the fashion of a warm spinach salad. Served with slices of herbed pork tenderloin on top, it makes for a stunning, nutritious and weeknight-friendly meal.

Storage Notes: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.

3 large shallots

2 unpeeled large sweet red apples (1 1/4 pounds total), such as Honeycrisp or Gala

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves

1/4 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

3 teaspoons Dijon mustard, divided

One (1 1/4-pound) pork tenderloin, silver skin removed

1/3 cup no-salt-added chicken broth or water

1 teaspoon honey

3 cups (3 ounces) baby spinach

Position racks in the middle and lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Halve and peel the shallots, then cut each half lengthwise into three wedges so that each wedge retains a bit of the core to hold it together. You will wind up with 18 wedges of shallot. Core the apples, then cut each apple into 12 wedges, so that you have 24 wedges total.

Place the apple and shallot wedges on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil and roast for 10 minutes on the middle rack, then toss, and continue to roast for another 10 minutes. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar, toss to coat, and return to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until the apples and shallots are tender, browned in spots and nicely glazed.

While the apples and shallots are roasting, in a small bowl combine the thyme, sage, and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Rub 1 teaspoon of the mustard all over the pork, then sprinkle the herb mixture all over it, pressing it in to adhere.

In a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the pork and cook until browned on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees and is slightly blushed in the center, 15 to 18 minutes. (When you add the skillet to the oven, transfer the baking sheet with the apples and shallots to the lower rack, if necessary.)

Transfer the pork to a cutting board to rest, and return the skillet to the stovetop (remember the handle will be hot). Add the chicken broth or water to the skillet and heat over high heat, scraping up the bits in the pan with a spoon, until the liquid is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons of the mustard and the honey. Taste, and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

When the apples and shallots are done, remove the baking sheet from the oven, and add the spinach to the sheet pan and all but a few tablespoons of the sauce from the skillet. Toss to combine, allowing the spinach to wilt somewhat.

Thinly slice the pork and serve it over the vegetable-apple mixture, drizzled with the remaining sauce.

Nutrition information per serving (about 5 ounces pork and 1 cup vegetable-apple mixture) Calories: 330; Total Fat: 14 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 93 mg; Sodium: 338 mg; Carbohydrates: 19 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g; Sugar: 13 g; Protein: 31 g. This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian's or nutritionist's advice.

From cookbook author and registered dietician nutritionist Ellie Krieger.

photo To start, you place wedges of sweet apple and shallot on a sheet pan, toss with a little oil and salt, and cook until they have become soft, sweet and beautifully browned. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post.

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