Mediterranean Pork with Orzo Salad
Why we love it:
- 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt (divided)
- 1 package Orzo Pasta (usually sold in a 16 ounce box)
- 1 pound Pork Tenderloin (use the whole thing even if the weight varies from this)
- 2 teaspoons Dried Oregano (divided)
- 1 Lemon (zest and juice, divided)
- 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter (divided)
- 1 pint Cherry Tomatoes
- 1⁄2 pound Zucchini
- 1 Red Onion (large dice)
- 1⁄4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 8 ounces Fresh Mozzarella
- 1⁄3 bunch Fresh Parsley (leaves and stems chopped)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add about 1¼ Tablespoons of salt. When the water is boiling, cook the orzo according to package directions - typically about 8 - 10 minutes. Drain and run under cold water while stirring in the colander until mostly cool. Then transfer to a large bowl.
2. PREP PORK
Place the pork tenderloin on a work surface and pluck off any large clumps of fat with your fingers, perhaps with a thin sharp knife. Then, look near the thinner end of the pork, there may be a “silver skin,” a thin smooth shiny layer that tapers towards the end of the tenderloin. If you bought it from a butcher, they may have removed this. If it’s there, stick just the tip of a thin knife under the silver piece and slice out toward the tail of the tenderloin. A piece of the silverskin should be loose now, grab it. Flip your knife around and make long shallow strokes to remove the length of the silver skin off of the tenderloin. If you need to repeat another strip, do it. Don’t worry about taking every speck off, just most of it will be ok.
Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon dried oregano and the zest of the lemon.
3. COOK PORK
Heat a large flat sauté pan (cast iron is great here) over medium-high heat and melt ½ the Tablespoon of butter. When it’s sizzling, add the pork to the pan - wherever it hits, even if it’s not what you had planned, don’t move it! Moving it tears the meat.
Cook for about 6 minutes on the first side, then roll the meat to the side. Think of it as having 3 sides. Cook the second side for 6 minutes and roll to the 3rd. Depending on how thick it is, you may want to cook this side between 4 - 8 minutes. Medium is perfect for pork, or 140 if you use a thermometer.
When it’s done, remove to a small dish and dot with the remaining butter. Pour any juice from the pan over the tenderloin.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place the cherry tomatoes on it. Dice the zucchini into 1” half moons or squares. Peel the red onion and dice it into large squares. Toss the veggies with ¼ cup of olive oil - yes, it’s a lot, but it becomes flavored in the oven and will be the dressing for all of that pasta. Add ½ teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon oregano, and the juice of ½ a lemon. Toss again to coat and place in the oven.
Roast for about 12 minutes, stirring once.
5. PASTA SALAD
When the veggies are done, remove from the oven and scrape the whole pan, including all of that delicious olive oil too, into the cooled pasta. Add about ½ teaspoon of salt and black pepper to taste. Squeeze the other ½ of the lemon into the pasta, too.
Dice the mozzarella. If you have the smaller mozzarella balls you can just slice them in ½ or decide to leave them whole. Add it.
Chop about ⅓ of the bunch of parsley, all the way down to the every end of the stems. Add to the pasta. Toss once more and taste, altering the salt or more olive oil if needed.
Slice the pork into ⅓” thick slices. Plate big scoops of pasta and put pork on the side. Use a spoon or pour a little bit of the buttery drippings of pork juice over the meat itself to season.