This winter when we were living the Florida RV life, the campground we stayed at in Fort Myers had an added amenity. It was right across the street from ECHO Global Farm and Research Center, a nonprofit faith-based organization that is dedicated to finding agricultural solutions to fighting hunger in Africa and urban food deserts in the United States. They used discarded tires, cement blocks and even old carpet to grow all manner of veggies - especially leafy greens. Every Friday, they sold the produce to the public and I found myself buying lots of kale. We ate it in salads and crispy fried it to sprinkle over eggs, but we also enjoyed it in soup. This one is healthy but still robust enough to be hearty on a chilly spring day. A bonus: it can be make in a snap!
Ingredients for Four Servings:
4 good sized cloves garlic, put through a press or finally minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (8 oz.) package of diced ham or 1 cup of left-over ham
2 (14.5 oz.) cans beef broth
2 (16 oz.) cans butter beans, rinsed and drained
1 large bunch kale, ribs removed and chopped (Lacinato is nice, but any variety works.)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Place olive oil in large saucepan over medium low heat. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic. Cook for a minute or until the garlic browns. Add the ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until it browns - about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen up any bits that might be clinging to the bottom. Then gently stir in the beans, chopped kale, and pepper. Bring the mixture up to a boil, then turn it back down to medium low heat and allow to simmer for five minutes. Ladle into soup bowls and serve.
Last weekend I found myself in a little predicament. We had come back home after being in Florida just in time to host an extended family get together. Because of the circumstances, I fell back on my usual easy go-to meal for a crowd: coleslaw and barbecue baked beans. But since it was way too cold to grill, I took the easy way out and oven roasted pork loin with a neutral rub. I served it sliced thin with BBQ sauce and little slider buns. That turned out great; my problem was that the next day, I still had a houseful of people to feed and nothing in the refrigerator but left overs! I had a package of flour tortillas, extra cooked pork, the remains of a vegetable tray, an unopened bag of coleslaw mix, and some Asian condiments. The perfect thing to do was make Asian burritos. It turned out to be a big hit - maybe even more fun than the dinner the night before. Everyone could make their own just the way they wanted and we all had a good laugh at my ineptness at rolling a burrito!
Ingredients for Six Burritos:
1 pound cooked pork tenderloin cut into 18 slices (suggestions for cooking below) 6 large flour tortillas 1 1/2 cups carrots, cut into matchstick sized pieces 1 1/2 cups cucumber, cut into matchstick sized pieces 1 1/2 cups red onion, cut into thin slices 3 cups white vinegar 1 (14 oz.) package of coleslaw mix 1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or white vinegar 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 teaspoon sesame oil 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce, divided (I used Huy Fong brand) 1 cup mayonnaise Bunch of fresh cilantro
Suggestions for Cooking the Pork Tenderloin
As I mentioned above, I just used a very neutral, but still delicious rub and baked it in the oven at 425 degrees. For a one pound tenderloin, a cooking time of 20 minutes will yield an internal temperature of 145. For those who like their pork on the well done side, 30 minutes of cooking time will bring it up to 155 degrees and 40 minutes brings it a bit past 160.
It could also be grilled over medium heat for the same amount of times.
Neutral Rub: 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 garlic gloves, minced or put through a press 1 tablespoon lemon pepper 2 teaspoons kosher salt
But - If planning ahead is an option, here is a recipe for an incredibly delicious marinade. It is the family recipe from my Vietnamese friend Kim. Whisk all the ingredients together and let the pork marinate for several hours. Kim says grilling is best, but baking works fine.