Roasting a pork tenderloin is a convenient way to get a nutritious, elegant meal on the table in no time at all. Flavorful and juicy, pork tenderloin also lends itself to a myriad of side dish options, most able to be prepared in less time than it takes to set the table and round up the family. Fruits, vegetables and more all blend beautifully with the subtle flavor of this favorite meat.
Update the Potato
Potatoes are a time-honored accompaniment to most meat dishes -- and for good reason. However, it takes very little time and effort to go beyond the predictable baked or mashed potato and serve a side everyone will crave. Tender, red-skinned potatoes can be boiled quickly, with no need to peel the thin, colorful skin, and minimally smashed. Add creamy richness with crème fraiche, Greek yogurt, or a scoop of herbed cheese spread, and sprinkle liberally with any fresh herb you have on hand. Rosemary and thyme go especially well with the flavors of pork.
Let the season be your guide when selecting a vegetable side for roasted pork tenderloin. In the spring, seasonal selections such as tender, crunchy asparagus or peas are perfect options. The asparagus can be simply prepared by roasting, alongside the pork, on a baking tray lined with foil. Trim the woody ends from the stalks and toss with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with an herb mix such as herbs de Provence, and roast for the last 10 minutes of the pork’s cooking time. New peas, and their attractive leafy shoots, can be served with minimal preparation. Blanch the peas, but leave the tender shoots uncooked for a sweet and crunchy treat.
Use the Bounty of Autumn
Autumn offers a range of hearty vegetable sides for pork, including butternut squash, carrots and onions. Butternut squash is perfect for roasting, although it requires a bit more time in the oven than some other choices. Split the squash in half lengthwise, seed, and place cut-side-up on a baking tray. Sprinkle with sea salt and olive oil and roast until tender when pierced with a fork. The natural, earthy sweetness of root vegetables such as carrots and onions can also be coaxed out with a 10-minute turn under the broiler.
Get Creative with Fruit
Pork is more than amenable to a fruit-based side – in fact, it seems as if they were made for each other. Apples can be roasted, or cooked into chunky sauce in relatively little time. Mango or pineapple can be combined with the contrasting flavors of jalepeno or habenero pepper for a sweet and hot salsa or chutney. When it comes to fruit sides for pork, just use your imagination. This forgiving meat isl happily paired with about any combination of flavors you can dream up.
- Fine Cooking: 21 Ideas for Pork
- James Beard's American Cookery; James Beard
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images