Weeknight Meals

Pork Tenderloin with Date-Cilantro Relish

Pork tenderloin is a go-to for weeknight dinners — quick, lean, and versatile, and not a lot of leftovers (important when you’re cooking for 1 or 2 and get  bored easily).

Dates are something new for me, and after a few bites adjusting to the texture, this recipe won me over. My grocery store carries dates in bulk, allowing me to buy just the quantity I needed.

Serve the pork with green vegetables, and if you want a starch, try rice, potatoes, or polenta (sweet potatoes or winter squash will be overwhelmingly sweet).

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Pork Tenderloin with Date-Cilantro Relish

From Bon Appetit

Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pork tenderloin (about 1½ lb.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup Medjool dates (about 4 oz.), cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro plus leaves for serving

Preheat oven to 425°. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, 6–8 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and cook pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part registers 140°, 10–15 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing; set aside pan drippings.

Toss dates, orange juice, reserved pan drippings, 3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Spoon relish over pork and top with cilantro leaves.

Filipino Pork and Noodles

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Pig is totally underrated. I mean, sure, everybody is obsessed with bacon, but beyond that, how much credit does little Hamlet get?

Maybe it’s just me, but pork seems to be more popular in international cuisine than American (beyond barbecue ribs, pulled pork, and the aforementioned bacon). In some ways this recipe reminds me of pork butt, the basis of pulled pork barbecue, but with a unique flavor profile, pulling from the soy sauce, vinegar and jalapeños.

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Center loin is just pork chops before they’re sliced. The meat cooks low and slow in a slow cooker, and the prep time is less than 15 minutes. Try mashed potatoes or even mashed cauliflower in place of egg noodles.

If you’re expecting leftovers, strain the cooking broth and pour at least some of it over the meat before packing it up in the refrigerator — you’ll want that extra broth when you reheat the meat.

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Filipino Pork and Noodles

From The Wanderlust Kitchen

1.75 lb lean pork center loin
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup water
5 cloves garlic, peeled crushed
6 peppercorns, crushed
5 whole bay leaves
2 jalapeños, stemmed and seeded, chopped

Place pork, soy sauce, vinegars, water, garlic, ground pepper, bay leaves, and jalapeños in a 3 quart or large slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 7 to 8 hours. Remove the pork, shred with two forks and put it back in the crock pot for another half hour to soak up some flavors from the sauce.

Cook the egg noodles according to manufacturer’s instructions (omitting any butter or salt). Remove and discard the bay leaves from the slow cooker. Serve the pork over the egg noodles.

Creamy Sausage and Pumpkin Pasta

I’m a sucker for all things pumpkin, and I loved the idea of combining it with sausage for a spicy kick. This 2-pot dish came together in under 20 minutes, perfect for a weeknight.

The original recipe called for fennel,  which is not my thing; cubed, roasted squash would also be a good addition. I prefer saucier skillet dishes rather than baked, but do what you like. Don’t overseason: the flavors will intensify as the dish cooks.

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Creamy Sausage and Pumpkin Pasta

Inspired by Leave A Happy Plate
Serves 4-5

1/2 lb whole wheat shell or other short pasta
1/2 lb spicy ground pork sausage
1/2 cup 1% or 2% plain Greek yogurt
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
2/3 cup Half and Half
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Red pepper flakes, if desired
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

If you like baked pasta, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and oil, stopping 1 minute early. Drain.

In a large oven-proof skillet, brown and crumble sausage. Drain on paper towels.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk togther yogurt, pumpkin, Half and Half, seasonings and Parmesan.

Toss pasta and sausage in the skillet. Pour sauce on top, stirring to combine. If baking, top with additional Parmesan, if desired, and place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Otherwise, heat on the stove over medium-low heat until heated through.