Pork chop with grapes
Photo: Henri Hollis
Photo: Henri Hollis

5:30 Challenge: Roasted grapes are a delicious accompaniment to pork

You may not think of grapes as an obvious ingredient to roast alongside pork tenderloin, or anything else for that matter, but listen — roasted grapes are one of the greatest culinary secrets. Their sweetness concentrates, becoming jammy and caramelized, and their skin takes on char like a champ, adding a touch of bitterness to offset that sugar. Add whole cloves of garlic and a showering of dried herbs and you’ll forget grapes are usually relegated to a fruit plate or a PB&J.

Fruit is a fine foil to pork of any kind, be it a chop with apricot relish or barbecue with peach and mustard sauce. Pork tenderloins, if they’re small, make an elegant and relatively healthy 5:30 Challenge entree, but you’ll need to work quickly through prep work to get this dish together in the 30-minute time allotment.

Put a sheet pan in the oven and crank it up extra hot before you do anything else. Use this preheating time to season the pork and rub it down with dried herbs de Provence (or any other dried herb blend you’d like, really). Peel the garlic and pull the grapes from their stems. Once the oven is hot, quickly slide all of your goodies onto the hot pan and give it 10 minutes undisturbed. You can let it cook this way until the pork is medium/medium-well, but the tenderloins will come out more evenly cooked if you take the time to flip them in the middle of the cook time. Give the grapes and garlic a few extra minutes of cook time while the pork rests to really make sure they’ve got the deep browning they need.

Since you’ve got about 15 minutes of hands-off time built in, you can certainly pull off any number of vegetable side dishes. A simple arugula salad is, however, just what this dish calls for.

Roast Herb Pork Tenderloin with Grapes and Garlic

Note: Make sure to purchase tenderloins that are on the small side, no larger than 12 ounces each, in order for them to cook through in the allotted time. Cooking the tenderloins to 140 degrees is, by the way, totally safe and will result in a light pink, very tender center.

MORE 5:30 CHALLENGE:

Pasta shells with lamb and peas
Udon miso soup
 
Trout almondine
 
Harissa chicken thighs
 
Warm chickpea salad 
Steak fajitas
 
Scallops with Fennel and Grapefruit
 
Spaghetti and Meatballs

Read the 2018 AJC Fall Dining Guide: Dining on Buford Highway 

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