Sometimes, I am inspired by a recipe to make it exactly as it appears. Other times, there is something about a recipe that makes me want to change it, just a little. Maybe add some cumin to the Indian dish, maybe brown sugar instead of white. And sometimes, that little change grows until the dish is pretty different from the original.
I was watching The Food Network Sunday morning. There was Amy Thielen, the former New York Chef who returned to her hometown in Minnesota, and now grows many of her own fruits and vegetables and gets just about everything else locally as well. As a Midwesterner myself, I completely appreciate her cooking style, her easy-going manner, and her “just do it myself” attitude about making your own foods from local ingredients when you can, rather than buying pre-made, processed foods. It really isn’t that hard and tastes so much better, without the vast amounts of sugar, salt and artificial additives. I certainly don’t do this all of the time, but definitely when I can.
Anyways, she was making something called “honey-roasted garlic”. Wow. I never thought of that! Sounds amazing. That amazing concoction consists of drizzling whole heads of garlic with honey and olive oil, and roasting them until they are tender and golden, then adding more honey and olive oil. She added this to sautéed Swiss chard.
Now, before you read this recipe, I’m going to warn you —– this one dish contains two entire heads of garlic. Before you stop reading, hear me out. The garlic is roasted until it so sweet and mild, it’s like candy. You will want to eat it like candy. And you should. ( I promise, I am not oozing garlic from my pores the day after. Really.)
So my thought was, “How can I make this dish even better?”, in other words, “What can I do to spread that amazing Honey-roasted Garlic even further?” The answer to this is to add more things to the dish. I decided to add farro and dried cherries to the mix.
if you’ve not yet made farro, then by all means, start with this dish! Farro is a wonderful grain that has a slightly nutty flavor, and is barley-like in shape, but has a more substantial mouth feel and chewy texture. It has protein, fiber and is a good source of iron, magnesium and zinc. This dish is super tasty, healthy and makes enough for lunchtime leftovers the next day.
Herbed Pork Roast and Farro with Honey-Roasted Garlic, Rainbow Chard and Cherries
Inspired and adapted from Heartland Table with Amy Thielen
For the Honey-Roasted Garlic:
2 heads garlic
2 t honey, divided
4 t olive oil, divided
For the farro:
1 c farro (I used Village Harvest Farro Perlato)
2 c stock or water, salted with 1/2 tsp. salt
1 T butter
2 T pine nuts
1 lb rainbow chard, chopped into 1″ pieces, stems discarded
2 T olive oil
1/3 c dried cherries (I used tart cherries,mouth Bing would be fine as well)
For the pork Roast:
2 lb. pork tenderloin roast
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T olive oil
2 T chopped rosemary
First, prepare the honey-roasted garlic. Preheat oven to 350F. Cut 1/2″ tops off of the heads of garlic. Do not discard the tops. Place on a large square of foil or a small baking dish that can be covered tightly with foil. Drizzle the garlic with 1 t honey and 1 t olive oil. Replace the tops then seal the foil, crimping edges tightly.
Roast in oven for 45-75 minutes. Check garlic after 45 minutes. You want to roast until the garlic cloves are quite tender and a deep golden color. Mine were barely browned at 45 minutes, so I placed them in a large ramekin and covered it with foil, and checked it after 15 more minutes and at 30 more minutes, until the color was dark golden brown and the cloves were very tender.
Remove garlic from the oven. Uncover. Cool until you can comfortably squeeze the cloves from the head and into a bowl. Add in the remaining teaspoon of honey and Tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside while preparing the roast and the farro.
While the garlic is roasting is a good time to set your tenderloin out if you have not already. It is good to have it close to room temp before putting it into the oven.
To prepare it, first generously salt and pepper it on all sides. Then brush on the balsamic vinegar, followed by a drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle with the chopped rosemary. Place tenderloin on a rack set into a 13×9 baking pan.
There are so many differing directions on the best way to roast a pork tenderloin without it drying out. Some methods cook it quickly at a high temperature, others slow roast at lower temps. Still others roast it high for a few minutes, then you turn the oven off for an hour. I have roasted many a tenderloin, sometimes with good results, others, well….not so much. I feel like the key to making it nice and juicy is the thermometer. You need to place it in the center of the roast before it goes into the oven. When the temperature reaches 138-140F (go higher and risk a dry roast?), remove it from the oven and cover completely with foil for 10-15 minutes. The temperature should increase 8-10 degrees over this time period. Then cut into your juicy roast. It may be ever-so-slightly pink. Do not be afraid. This is OK.
So I usually roast at 350F until the thermometer says 138F. This usually takes 20 or 25 mins per pound. So for this recipe, about 45 minutes. So a good time to put the roast into the oven would be when you are ready to start the farro.
Measure stock or broth into pan. Add salt as desired. Scoop 1 c farro and add to the broth. Heat on medium-high heat until it boils. Cover and simmer for 25-35 minutes or more, until stock is absorbed. (It’s ok if a tablespoon or two is remaining for this dish.)
While farro is simmering, melt the butter in a large sauté pan. Add in pine nuts and brown, stirring often. Add a Tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, followed by the chopped chard, moving it around the pan constantly until the volume is reduced substantially. I like to use tongs for this. There is a lot of chard but it will reduce rather quickly. Once reduced, spoon in the honeyed garlic and all the liquid in the bowl. Continue to mix in with tongs,
Once the farro is ready, add it to the reduced chard, mix well, then add in the cherries. If you feel like the dish is too dry, go ahead and drizzle in another Tablespoon or two of olive oil. Spoon into serving dish. You can serve this warm or at room temperature, it’s delish either way.
Slice your delicious and juicy tenderloin, and dinner is served! Enjoy!