Pork Tenderloin and Cannellini Beans

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really come to strongly believe that it’s important to keep trying things you thought you didn’t like. Whether it be trying tomatoes again, or overcoming a fear of heights, I think it’s important to keep an open mind.

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There are SO many foods I used to think I didn’t like. And I would go for years without trying them again. (I missed out!) …But then, eventually, I DID try them again. And again. And eventually learned to love many of them. And some I learned that I will just NEVER like, no matter now they are served or prepared (I’m lookin’ at you, canned beets and black jellybeans!). But, hey, at least I know!

Some of the foods I used to DESPISE but now love:

  • capers <- used to be my most hated food!
  • horseradish
  • onions
  • ketchup
  • Brussels sprouts
  • spinach / kale
  • all seafood (oysters, mussels, calamari, all kinds of fish)
  • chicken wings
  • curry spices
  • tomatoes

I try to live my life by the motto that, “I will try anything twice.” And not just when it comes to food. Now, I’m sure we could come up with exceptions to this rule (like, I’m not suggesting getting back with your ex here), but when it comes to life in general, I always strive to keep an open mind when it comes to trying new things. If we simply dismiss ideas after a single try, I think it’s easy to miss out on great opportunities. Try it just one more time. And if you still don’t like it, well, again, at least you know!

An example is pork tenderloin. For years I adamantly decreed that, “I do not like pork.” (I even didn’t like bacon as a really young kid!) Eventually, years later, I gave many foods a second chance and learned, “OH! I do like bacon.” (Because seriously, what kind of person doesn’t like bacon? What is wrong with you?) “OH! I do like pulled pork sandwiches!” “OH! I do like pork chops!” “I even like pork shoulder!”

And now, just this month I have learned, “OH! I do like pork tenderloin!”

Here is the recipe that changed my mind:

Pork Tenderloin and Cannellini Beans

First, encrust the pork tenderloin in this simple but wicked (that’s a good thing) combination of spices: crushed fennel seed, fresh rosemary, salt, freshly ground black pepper.

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Then sear all sides of the pork.

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Set the pork aside, and sauté onion and garlic in the same pan.

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Add chopped tomatoes (I used diced canned! I won’t buy fresh this time of year), salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes for just a hint of heat.

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Add chicken stock, a can of cannellini beans, and bring to a boil.

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Add the pork back to the pan.

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Now place the pan in a preheated oven for 12 minutes, to finish cooking the pork. I should have mentioned earlier, please prepare this dish in an oven-safe skillet. I have a Lodge enameled cast iron skillet, which worked well. And good golly, don’t forget your pot holder, kids!

If you don’t own an oven-safe skillet, buy one. Okay, fine…or I suppose you could preheat a baking dish, transfer everything in there, then throw the baking dish in the oven for 12 minutes. But don’t come crying to me when it’s time to do dishes!

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I kid.

(But seriously, don’t).

And then, I mean, your dinner is pretty much ready. Let the pork rest for 5 minutes after removing from the oven, then slice it, and serve it atop the bean and tomato ragu. Sprinkle with fresh parsley, if desired.

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The cooking method suggested in this Cooking Light recipe produced a very tender pork tenderloin.

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So there you have it. The recipe that changed my mind about pork tenderloin. I always though of this cut of meat as tough and lacking flavor, but this recipe proved you can have tender, juicy pork tenderloin with fantastic flavors. The crushed fennel seed provides a mild anise flavor that accents the pork well, while the fresh rosemary provides a mild, piney zip. Together, they make the pork pop! And that’s a good thing.

Pork Tenderloin and Cannellini Beans

Recipe from Cooking Light  [mild adaptations]

Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (I highly recommend fresh if possible!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chopped tomato (or 14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes [no salt added])
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage (or 1/3 tsp dried sage)
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Combine rosemary, fennel seeds, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture evenly over pork.
  3. Heat an oven-safe large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add pork; cook 9 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove pork from pan. Add onion and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add tomato and sage; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, chicken stock, red pepper, and cannellini beans, and bring to a boil. Return pork to pan, and place pan in oven. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until a thermometer registers 140°.
  4. Place pork on a cutting board; let stand 5 minutes. Heat pan over medium heat; cook bean mixture 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Sprinkle with parsley. Thinly slice pork; serve with bean mixture.

My rating: 8.3/10

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5 thoughts on “Pork Tenderloin and Cannellini Beans

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