Last weekend, we made the trek to the North Georgia mountains for some apple picking. It was a pretty ambitious outing for us, now that we're outnumbered by out kids 2:1. But we forged ahead, and lived to tell the tale, so we're considering it to be a success! And even better yet, we came home with TONS of apples, so double win. Smith, Caroline, and I have each been enjoying an apple a day, and I've been an apple-cooking fool for the past week. So far, I've made a huge batch of my very berry applesauce, baked a pan of cinnamon baked apples for the twins to gnaw on, baked an apple-cinnamon German pancake, and made this pork tenderloin. And I still have over 50 apples left! So definitely expect to see apples take over the blog for a while!
It's easy to relegate apples to sweet applications, but I for one think they are pretty awesome in savory dishes as well. I've always been a fan of fruit salsas, so this was of course an instant hit with me. The pork tenderloin is rubbed with a smoky-spicy-sweet blend of cinnamon, chili powder, and just a pinch of cayenne. After a brief sear on the stovetop, it's finished in the oven, and then served with the apple salsa. The warmth and spice from the pork go really well with the crisp freshness and sweet-tartness of the apple salsa.
Pork and apples have long-been a great pairing, and this dish is just a new take on that classic combination. It's super easy, healthy (less than 500 calories per serving!), and is a hit with the whole family. I made this a low-maintenace meal by throwing some green beans into the pan with the pork as it roasted. I also quickly cooked a pot of grains, and it was a really well-balanced, delicious, and healthy meal.
What's more, it's perfectly suited for leftovers. Let me take just a moment to tell you about the awesome sliders that I used to reinvent the leftovers. I bought some Hawaiian sweet rolls, and layered on thinly sliced pork, a spoonful of the salsa, and a slice of extra sharp cheddar. Then I baked them until the cheese was melted, the tops of the buns were just barely crispy, and the pork was heated through. And oh. my. goodness, were they good. Like eat them for dinner two nights in a row good. I'd imagine the same combo would make killer quesadillas as well.
So between the awesome dinner and the amazing leftovers, this is the dinner that keeps on giving. And as we move into comfort food season, it's a great dish to have in your back pocket - fall flavors, but with a lighter and modern twist.
Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Apple Salsa
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe and Multiply Delicious
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the cinnamon, chile powder, cayenne, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper. Pour over the pork tenderloins, and massage the spice rub into the meat, turning each piece to fully coat it.
Heat a 12-inch oven-safe skillet (preferably cast-iron) and the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the pork tenderloins, and cook 2-3 minutes per side.
Transfer the skillet + pork to the oven, and cook until the meat registers 140 degrees at the thickest part of the pork, about 15-18 minutes. Remove from heat, cover loosely with foil, and allow to rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.
Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the apple salsa in a medium bowl, tossing well to combine. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
Slice the pork and serve with the apple salsa.