Though I’m a big fan of seasonal cooking, cooking seasonally isn’t just about using the most abundant and freshest local ingredients you can find, it’s also about the time you can find in any given season to turn those fresh ingredients into a meal.
During summer vacation or holiday seasons? Sure, I’ll knock myself out a little. But as the mother of two kids (let’s call them Carbon and Footprint because they go to different schools and play different sports), the first week back to school is not a time that I want to spend any extra time in the kitchen.
So as summer winds down and your schedule gears up, here’s a quick, skinny and yummy supper that makes the most of seasonal ingredients in the least amount of time with the least amount of clean up: Grilled Pork Tenderloin Tacos with Cabbage and Fennel Slaw.
Of all pork products, pork tenderloin–with 23 grams of protein, lots of B vitamins, only 4-6 grams of fat and just 154 calories per 4 ounce serving–is one of your healthiest choices. And since your grill is probably still ready to fire up after a summer of BBQs, no extra fat is needed to cook it.
But the best thing about this really big dinner is how EASY it is!
And since the dressing has only 3 ingredients, you can toss it all together in the time it takes you to grill the pork…. It just couldn’t be easier!
All in, with the pork and slaw on crisped tortillas smeared with avocado and fat free sour cream and topped with fresh tomatoes–with a salad of greens, cucumbers, fresh corn, black beans and feta on the side–this full plate of deliciousness hovers around just 300 calories!
So as you ease back into the real world after summer bliss, don’t stress! You can have this Back to School Supper in less time than it takes you to go through the carpool line!
GRILLED PORK TENDERLOIN TACOS WITH SKINNY CABBAGE AND FENNEL SLAW
(Though I call for just one 1-pound pork tenderloin to serve 4, pork tenderloins often come 2 to a package. If you cook both, double the ingredients for the seasoning and the slaw and use twice the number of tortillas.)
1 pork tenderloin trimmed of excess fat (If you can, buy local and organic pork. It really does taste better.)
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t chipotle or ancho chili powder (You can use plain chili powder, but chipotle or ancho chili powders add much more spice and flavor.)
1/4 t garlic salt
1 c fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced (about 1/2 of a bulb)
1 c thinly sliced red onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
2 T minced cilantro
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced. (Use the whole thing if you want more heat.)
2-4 chopped green onions
1 T seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
2-3 T fresh lime juice (lemon can be used as well.)
salt and pepper to taste
8 corn tortillas (Don’t use flour tortillas. They can have as many as 150-250 calories a piece! Corn tortillas have just 50.)
8 T mashed avocado (1 T per taco)
8 T fat-free sour cream (1 T per taco)
Prepare the Pork:
6 to 24 hours before you’re going to grill, rinse the pork and place it on a large piece of plastic wrap. Mix together the oregano, cumin, chili powder and garlic salt. (Just mix the spices on a corner of the plastic wrap so you don’t have to dirty a bowl.)
Rub the mixture over the pork, wrap it up in the plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for at least 6 hours and up to 24.
Make The Slaw:
In the bottom of your serving dish, mix together the rice wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and lime juice and stir until smooth. Add the cabbage, fennel, onions, cilantro and jalapeno and toss well. Taste for seasonings, adding salt and pepper as needed.
(Note: If you have a mandolin, this is the time to use it. While cutting these veggies thin with a sharp knife takes only 10 minutes, a mandoline can do them all in 2! I have a fancy pants version from William-Sonoma that I got as a wedding gift 150 years ago, but there are now much less expensive ones that work just as well. )
Remove the pork from the fridge 30 minutes before you plan to cook.
Preheat your grill for 10 minutes on high and then reduce heat to medium or medium high (depending on how hot your grill gets) and toss the pork onto the grill.
Even though tenderloins are tubular, treat them as if they have 4 sides and cook each side for 3-5 minutes, closing the lid every time you roll it, for a total of 12-20 minutes depending on their thickness. (As you can see here, one tenderloin was skinny and was done in 12 minutes…the big boy took 20.)
Cover tightly with foil and let rest 10-15 minutes so the juices are all re-absorbed before slicing.
Prepare The Tortillas:
While the pork is resting, heat a non-stick pan over medium high for a few seconds, spray with canola oil and let the oil heat up for a few seconds more. Add the tortillas and cook 2-3 minutes a side until they’re slightly stiff and browned in spots. (Resist the urge to just microwave the tortillas…they’ll be too soft and will fall apart under the weight of the filling.)
Then add 1 T of fat free sour cream on the other side…
Place a handful of cabbage slaw on the sour cream side and 1/4 cup of pork–which is about 2 ounces–on the avocado side…
Add a little more cilantro and some fresh tomatoes on top…any color will do..
Add any hot sauce you like as well…
PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD:
Leave the skin on for cooking to keep the meat moist..but make sure you rub the spice mixture under the skin before you cook it so that the meat is fully seasoned….
Once cooked, toss the skin and shred the chicken or chop it and use just as you would pork….serving just 2 ounces of meat per taco to keep your calorie count honest.
RE-USE, RE-PURPOSE, RE-CYCLE
To make a quick salad to take to work…just add the meat, slaw, a bit of black beans and corn and a few sliced cucumbers on top of a bed of spinach, arugula or mixed greens for a healthy but filling lunch.
Or re-cycle and re-invent that Mexican flavored pork into an Asian dish!
With some 20 calorie a cup tofu noodles and any fresh veggies you have on hand, you can have an Almost Instant Pork, Tofu Noodle and Vegetable Soup in just minutes! Remember, to eat well at home… quicker and skinnier than you can eat out…it’s all about inventory!