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Eric Akis: Grilled plums and pork tenderloin are stars of this summer salad

If you like foods grilled on a barbecue and enjoy main-course salads for a summer supper, you’ll be happy because today’s recipe combines them.
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A summer main-course salad with grilled pork, grilled plums, blue cheese, walnuts, cucumber and raspberry vinaigrette. ERIC AKIS

If you like foods grilled on a barbecue and enjoy main-course salads for a summer supper, you’ll be happy because today’s recipe combines them. The grilled foods include plums and pork tenderloin, which work well together.

Pork tenderloin is a lean, tender, moderately priced cut of meat, when compared with beef tenderloin.

To prepare it for the salads, it was richly seasoned, grilled on a barbecue, rested a few minutes and then sliced.

Before cooking pork tenderloin, unless the butcher has already done so, remove the silverskin, a silvery, tough connective tissue that runs along the top of the flesh. To do that, starting about 2.5 centimetres from either end of the tenderloin, slide your sharp, thin-bladed knife under a strip of it. Use your non-cutting hand to hold the silverskin taut and then, with your knife angled upward, slide it down the tenderloin to remove it.

To cook the plums on the barbecue, they were quartered, pitted, lightly tossed with olive oil and then grilled until lightly charred and infused with a pleasing smoky taste.

To make the salads, baby salad greens (or torn leaves of leaf lettuce) were set on dinner plates. The greens or lettuce were then topped with the sliced pork, the grilled plums, nuggets of blue cheese, toasted walnuts and half-moon slices of cucumber.

Each salad was then drizzled with a fruity, tangy raspberry vinaigrette. The result was a flavourful, pretty summer meal that yielded four servings.

You could serve the salad with sliced baguette and B.C. rosé wine.

Grilled Pork and Plum Salad with Blue Cheese and Walnuts

This perfect summer main-course salad is made by tastily topping salad greens with grilled slices of pork tenderloin, grilled plums, tangy blue cheese, crunchy walnuts, crisp slices of cucumber and a fruity raspberry vinaigrette.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 12 to 15 minutes

Makes: four servings

For the raspberry vinaigrette

3 Tbsp raspberry vinegar (see Note 1)

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp honey, or to taste

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup olive oil

For the pork and plums

3 Tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil (divided)

6 not overly ripe, medium red or purple plums, quartered and pitted

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper

• salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 (about 550-gram) pork tenderloin, trimmed of any outer sinew and cut in half, widthwise

For the salad and to serve

10 to 12 cups baby salad greens, or 1 medium to large head leaf lettuce, separated into individual leaves, washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces

125 grams blue cheese, pulled into small nuggets, or to taste

1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted (see Note 2)

40 thin, half-moon slices English cucumber

Make vinaigrette by combining vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and pepper in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the 1/2 cup olive oil. Cover and refrigerate vinaigrette until needed.

To cook pork and plums, preheat your barbecue to medium-high (about 375 F in the chamber). Place 2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil, oregano, cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and cayenne pepper in a sided dish. Add the pork and turn to coat. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Set pork aside for now.

Place the plums and 1 Tbsp olive oil in second sided dish and toss to coat. Grill the plums on the barbecue until lightly charred, about 30 second per side, and then set on a plate.

Set the pork on the barbecue and grill and sear about three minutes per side. Slide the pork over to one side of the barbecue and turn the heat off underneath it. Leave the other side of the barbecue on. Close the barbecue lid and cook pork about 10 to 12 minutes more, or until cooked through (see Note 3). Set pork on a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.

Now cut the pork into thin slices.

To make the salads, set some salad greens or lettuce on each of four dinner plates. Artfully top the greens or lettuce with the sliced pork, plums, blue cheese, walnuts and cucumber. Give the raspberry vinaigrette a stir, drizzle some of it on each salad, and then serve.

Note 1: Raspberry vinegar is sold in the bottled vinegar aisle of many grocery stores. If you want to make your own vinegar, Google Eric Akis raspberry vinegar and you’ll find a link to a recipe for it. If you don’t wish to use raspberry vinegar, you could replace it with red wine vinegar and a bit more honey.

Note 2: To toast the walnuts, place them in a skillet and set over medium heat. Heat and stir walnuts until lightly toasted, about five minutes.

Note 3: You can check to see if the pork is cooked by inserting an instant-read meat thermometer into the centre of it.

If the thermometer registers 150 F or above, the pork is ready to be removed from the barbecue. During resting, the meat will continue to cook and the temperature will rise to the recommended pork doneness of 160 F.

Eric’s options: If you don’t have a barbecue, you could roast the pork on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in a 375 F oven 25 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through. And, instead of grilling the plums, simply set them on the salads raw.

eakis@timescolonist.com

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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