I am heading to Oro Valley, Arizona this weekend to celebrate the marriage of two San Francisco friends. Albeit any run-in with authoritative immigration officials, the weekend should be a relaxing few days of sunshine, Pilates, desert hiking and of course celebrations!
Whenever I head out of town for a weekend getaway, I’m always faced with the challenge of a near empty fridge and still needing to cook a healthy, tasty dinner for myself. I do not want to make a trek to the local market just to stock up on perishable goods that will turn bad by the time I return from my escapade. As a result, the last day or two before my trip usually results in 1) Dining out at a favorite local spot 2) Playing the “What’s in your fridge?” game and creating a new recipe.
As I peered into my fridge last night, the challenge was looking a bit grim:
Eggs – brown cage-free from a local farm
Mt Tam Cheese from Cowgirl Creamery – quite tasty but not exactly a main course
Parsley (and lots of it)
Half an avocado
Half a fennel bulb
Thickly cut, bone-in pork chops
I evaluated the situation, determining if I would need to bite the bullet and head to the corner market for a few more greens. Yet call it the innovative spirit (or just pure laziness) but I decided I was going to make do with what I had and come up with a satisfying dinner…And that’s just what happened.
Resulting recipes? Check them out below…They were both complementary, easy to prepare (<20 minutes) and pretty healthy. Not to mention filling and satisfying in the flavor arena.
Fresh Parsley, Fennel, Pea and Avocado Salad with a Lemon Red Wine Vinaigrette
The fennel in this salad provides a welcome crunch that helps to offset the softer qualities of the peas and avocado. Parsley assists with a lively flavor profile and the lemon vinaigrette provides a light final touch.
Half bushel of parsley – finely chopped
Half fennel bulb – thinly sliced
Peas – preferably fresh but you can also use a can of peas if out of season
Avocado – diced
Shaved parmesan cheese
Vinaigrette: 1 lemon, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, olive oil (2-3 tablespoons)
1) Chop up all fresh ingredients and combine in bowl.
2) Shave strips of parmesan cheese into bowl – quantity according to taste preference.
3) Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together in smaller bowl.
4) Combine and toss thoroughly.
Mediterranean Spiced Parsley Pork Chop
I love pork chops, so much in fact that I’ve been known to take down 9 thinly cut pork chops in a single sitting. These spiced pork chops are easy to prepare with a quick sear on each side followed by a bake in the oven to seal in all those meaty juices. Recommend buying pork chops with a bit of fat in them as they will cook down slightly.
Thicker cut pork chops (bone-in preferred as it adds another layer of depth)
½ cup parsley – finely chopped
1) Ensure pork chops are at room temperature
2) Preheat oven to 425 degrees
3) Rub one teaspoon olive oil over each chop
4) Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder
5) Sprinkle Mediterranean spices on each side of pork chop (I’ll admit, I bought a pre-made Mediterranean spice mix from a local store but you can make your own using spices like thyme, marjoram, coriander, cumin, paprika)
6) Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in sauté pan over high heat
7) Add pork chops and sear on each side for about 4-5 minutes
8) Last minute in pan, add few tablespoons of parsley to cook down in oil, stir over pork chops
9) Take pork chops, oil, and parsley and place in oven safe baking dish
10) Bake for 10-12 minutes at 425 degrees
11) Remove from heat and let rest for a few minutes. Serve with salad!