Strawberries make the salad

Tenderloin salad w:strawberries

When temperatures soar and appetites wilt, nothing is more appealing than a salad packed with cool, crisp greens.  Add a little protein and dinner is ready for the table.

This summer, I’m enamored with the pork tenderloin salad with warm strawberry dressing I found in “The Berry Bible,” by Janie Hibler.  Nominated for a James Beard award when it was first published in 2004, the cookbook is one of the books Amazon Encore is bringing back because customer reviews and other sources indicate they were overlooked and under-appreciated when they were first released.

This cookbook is an encyclopedic reference on every variety of berry imaginable, from the Arctic raspberry to the thimbleberry, with recipes for every course from cocktails to dessert.  I’ve never even tasted or seen most of these berries.  Who even knew you could eat the fruit of the manzanita bush?  But I’ve made several batches of the tasty strawberry, rhubarb and cardamom jam.  And I can’t get enough of this memorable salad

With its brilliant colors and intriguing blend of sweet and savory flavors, the salad is impressive enough for company.  Yet it only takes about half an hour to put together.

The tenderloin, rubbed with rosemary and garlic, cooks in 15 to 20 minutes in the oven.  While it’s roasting, you slice the strawberries and prepare the greens and avocado.  When the pork is done, the dressing is quickly made in the roasting pan with the remaining meat juices.  Slice the pork, arrange everything on a platter and dinner is served.

If you’re expecting a really warm day,  you can roast the meat in the cool of the morning, wrap the cooked meat in aluminum foil, and put it in the fridge until dinner.  Reduce the balsamic vinegar in the roasting pan and refrigerate it, too.  When you’re ready to eat,  just pop the foil-wrapped package in a toaster oven to warm for about 10 minutes while you reheat the vinegar and juices, then stir in the strawberries and olive oil. Assemble the salad and enjoy.

The combination of tender pork, balsamic-spiked strawberries, luscious avocado and chilled greens is guaranteed to hit the spot on a sweltering day.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon coarse salt plus more for seasoning salad
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound pork tenderloin
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
¼ pound fresh mixed salad greens
1 avocado, pitted, sliced and removed from skin

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

In a small bowl, combine rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.  Pat the tenderloin dry and rub with the rosemary and garlic mixture.  Place tenderloin in a small roasting pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil and brown on all sides. Transfer pan to the oven and roast meat for 15 to 20 minutes, until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees on a thermometer.  Remove tenderloin from pan, place on plate, cover and set aside while you prepare the dressing.

Place roasting pan over medium-high heat on a stove-top burner, pour in balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil.  With a heat-proof spoon or spatula, scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned bits.  When the vinegar has reduced by nearly half (1 to 2 minutes), add strawberries and olive oil and gently toss.  Turn off heat and set pan aside.

Slice tenderloin into ½ inch thick rounds and pour any collected juices from the plate into the roasting pan with the balsamic and strawberries.

Arrange greens on a platter with the sliced meat on top.  Tuck avocado between the slices.  Drizzle with the warm strawberry dressing, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and serve.

Adapted from “The Berry Bible,” by Jane Hibler (Amazon Encore, 2010)

2 thoughts on “Strawberries make the salad”

  1. This looks great! Is there a way to cook the pork tenderloin on top of the stove? Some days it’s just to hot to turn on the oven, and those would be the perfect days for this salad.

    1. Glennda, you could try cooking it in a heavy skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Brown it on all sides first, then add a little liquid, lower the heat and cover, so it basically braises. I’m not sure how that would work for the dressing, though, which is why I recommended roasting it early in the day. Or you could grill it and save the juices when you slice. Those could go into the dressing, but you won’t have the caramelized bits.

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