Who said that family meals always have to be heavy and highly caloric?
That’s not the rule at my home. Of course, sometimes they are, but I let dessert play that role 😉
Pork loin? Isn’t that too fat?
Even though I don’t eat red meat very often, pork loin creeps in my monthly rotation for its flavor, high protein count and mid-level price.
I did some research in the main nutritional database in my country (*) and found that raw pork loin (no fat or skin) has about 22 gr protein and 4,7 gr fat, per 100 gr of edible meat. Consider, as a comparison, that lean beef has 21 gr protein and 3,3 gr fat, for the same amount of edible meat. And, funny enough, pork loin has higher protein content and lower fat content than our current favorite fish: sea bass.
Cumin and coriander – healthy seasoning alternatives
In Portuguese traditional cooking, marinades for pork are always heavy on wine and fat. Again, I don’t settle for that and make it all differently!
I take inspiration from Asian and, as is the case in this recipe, from Middle Eastern cooking.
I do keep the garlic, however. I always include garlic in my meat-based cooking. However, if you don’t care for it, feel free to omit the garlic, the dish will be delicious anyway.
Garlic, smoked paprika, ground cumin, and coriander – a mix that flavors the meat beautifully, with a touch of exoticism that carries us on a well-deserved trip to warmer and more colorful places.
Loads of lemon juice, always! Not only it balances the flavors but also acts as a carrier for the dry spices, decreasing the amount of oil needed. Nevertheless, I use a tablespoon of mild olive oil, as it improves the overall result.
Apples on the side
Those who lived the 80’s can remember the inevitable apple puree, always siding any pork roast on every buffet table, from the poshest to the most casual…
I’m nodding to that era by including diced apples as a side, just like you’d do with potatoes. They are seasoned just like the meat and roasted in the same dish. The end result will have an exotic savory taste from the spices, balanced by a touch of sweetness from the apples. But, without the excessive retro ambiance that the puree would have given it.
As you can see, I’m faithful to my pledge of “healthy food made easy” – there’s no fruit easier to find than apples!
I cannot resist suggesting, however, that you also try this recipe with other fruit, equally complementary to pork, like plums or apricots, that you’ll season and cook just like described for the apples.
Uncomplicated, above all!
Place everything on the same oven tray, season it and combine. After that, it’s just oven working. The cooking time will depend on the size and total weight of the meat you’ll be roasting.
Here, I cooked about 600 gr of pork loin but I cut it in half. It took 30 minutes to cook to perfection, in a pre-heated oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
You should get about 200 gr of meat and one large apple per person. We tend to eat less than that at home, but that just means next day’s lunch is sorted!
The amounts of spices for seasoning vary directly with the amount of meat you’re cooking. Just multiply.
Here goes de recipe.
Exotic Pork Loin with Apples
for three portions
- 600 gr pork loin
- 3 organic red apples (because you’ll be eating the peel)
- 3 minced garlic cloves or 2 tsp powdered garlic
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 1 tsp lemon zest (choose unwaxed)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh rosemary and thyme, two or three sprigs from each
- Sea salt and black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 180º C (350º F).
Prepare the seasoning mix: in a bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, smoked paprika, cumin, and coriander. Mix well.
Wash the apples carefully. Core them and cut them into large cubes, leaving the peel on.
Cut out any remaining skin or fat from the pork loins and place them on your chosen oven tray or dish.
Distribute the apple segments around the meat.
Add the seasoning mix to the tray and mix to cover both the meat and the apples. Use two spoons, if you need.
Re-arrange the meat and apples again on the tray, making sure they are evenly distributed, and in one layer only.
Place the herb sprigs on the meat and apples.
Season everything with sea salt and a few pepper mill twists. At this point, I cannot resist squeezing out any remaining lemon juice over my dish – do it if you want.
Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes.
If you double the quantity but still use these thin pork loins, you may need to add 5 to 10 minutes more oven time. However, if you choose a larger cut of pork, you’ll need to adjust the roasting time accordingly, as it will be much thicker.
Make sure you stir the apples a bit, halftime, to prevent them from sticking to the tray.
When ready, let the meat rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Slice it into 1 cm thick pieces, in a 45-degree angle.
Serve with the apples on the side and a green salad – season it well with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
Well, then, here’s another idea for a healthy meal that is not restrictive, cooked with simplicity and imagination, just as we like it 😉
This is proof that eating well does not have to be complicated nor expensive!
If you try this recipe, please let us know. I love getting some news from the Glow Chef community.
(*) Source: Instituto Nacional Dr. Ricardo Jorge; read the specific file here: PortFIR