If You Can’t Have an Island Vacation, Have an Island Salad

Anyone else need a vacation to recover from their vacation?

If you’re not quite ready to face work yet, maybe you and I should take off for somewhere sunny. Aruba, anyone? Maybe the Dominican Republic?

In college, my a cappella singing group was hired to perform for a week at a Club Med in the D.R. I had never been to a tropical resort before, and pushed the group to do something more adventurous/cultural with our January break. Of course, I was wrong, and singing for our all-you-can-eat suppers (and a flipbook’s worth of pina coladas) was the perfect way to spend a winter week after exams. It was heavenly, in the way that only long days on the beach with great friends, trashy novels, and unhealthy beverages can be.

If you can’t make it there, maybe this salad will help ease the pain.

My mom saved the recipe from an old Gourmet magazine, and though it’s a little dated, it’s kind of fun. She added some toasted cashews, and subbed romaine for the cabbage. The touch of curry powder makes the dressing bold and warm, if not exactly tropical.

Pina coladas may not be part of your New Year’s resolutions, but if you have one, I won’t tell…

Island Pork Tenderloin Salad
from Gourmet (May 2003)

For pork
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pork tenderloins (2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds total) See note below.
2 tablespoons olive oil

For glaze
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon Tabasco

For vinaigrette
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

For salad
3 navel oranges
5 ounces baby spinach, trimmed (6 cups leaves)
4 cups romaine lettuce
1 red bell pepper, cut lengthwise into thin strips
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup cashews, toasted
2 ripe California avocados

Prepare pork:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon, then coat pork with spice rub.Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until just beginning to smoke, then brown pork, turning, about 4 minutes total. Leave pork in skillet.

Make glaze and roast pork:
Stir together brown sugar, garlic, and Tabasco and pat onto top of each tenderloin. Roast in middle of oven until thermometer inserted diagonally in center of each tenderloin registers 140°F, about 20 minutes. Let pork stand in skillet at room temperature 10 minutes. (Temperature will rise to about 155°F while standing.)

Make vinaigrette while pork roasts:
Whisk together juices, mustard, curry powder, salt, and pepper, then add oil in a stream, whisking until emulsified.

Prepare salad ingredients while pork stands:
Cut peel, including white pith, from oranges with a sharp knife, then cut oranges crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Toss spinach, cabbage, bell pepper, cashews and raisins in a large bowl with about 1/4 cup vinaigrette. Halve, pit, and peel avocados, then cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Assemble salad:
Cut pork at a 45-degree angle into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Line a large platter with dressed salad and arrange sliced pork, oranges, and avocados in rows on top. Drizzle some vinaigrette over avocados and oranges. Pour any juices from skillet over pork.

NOTE: Be careful to buy pork tenderloins that don’t have too much saline injected in them. My mom likes the ones from Trader Joe’s, and there are probably others, but many supermarket brands are quite waterlogged. Then be careful not to overcook.

In light, pork, salad

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