When you are the kind of person who wants nothing more than to eat cozy autumn soups, cheese-laden pasta, and charcuterie boards for the rest of her life, trying to find more healthful options can be a bit of a challenge.
My solution? A salad that I can trash up with all the toppings, making It feel more like a snack platter that just happens to be sitting atop a bed of greens rather than a salad.
My goal in life is essentially to make even my wisest and healthiest choices feel a little indulgent.
This salad was inspired by Mr. Pedantic’s obsession with Trader Joe’s sesame soy ginger vinaigrette. Ohmygoodness it’s so good.
I love this dressing almost as much as he does, and I feel like it is the perfect flavor profile for this time of year when my heart longs for warm, savory, fall flavors, but the weather isn’t exactly ideal for giant bowls of hearty soup.
I made a super quick, sweet and savory soy marinade and tossed in a pork tenderloin. Most of the “dinner salads” we eat in this house feature chicken, so pork is a welcome twist.
Before I am flooded with emails and comments about the “dangerously pink” hue of my pork, contrary to popular belief, 145 degrees F is a safe temperature for pork; just be sure to give it a few minutes to rest before slicing.
While the pork rests, you can turn to a bottle of our Trader Joe’s favorite, or you could whip up an embarrassingly simple dressing that is full of umami.
We love these honey sesame almonds (also from good old TJ’s) and they add a welcome crunch to the salad. However, if you cannot get ahold of them, cashews would be an excellent alternative! Toppings are more suggestions than equations, so just make it your own!
Other toppings include diced cucumber, shaved carrots, avocado, and mandarin oranges. Fresh oranges sliced into supremes would be amazing, but every once in a while I cannot resist the candy-like canned version. Please don’t hate me…
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle with dressing, and an extra squeeze of lime if you’re feeling it.
Not too shabby for a Wednesday.
Sesame-Soy Pork Loin Salads
for the pork
1 lb pork tenderloin
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Combine 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, sesame oil, and brown sugar in a large, zip-top bag.
Add the pork tenderloin to the bag and seal tightly; shake the bag gently until the ingredients are well-combined and the pork is coated in the mixture.
Place the bag inside a mixing bowl and marinate for four hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a half baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to a 8-inch skillet and place over medium high heat.
When the oil has begun to shimmer, add the marinated pork loin to the pan and sear well on all sides. Watch the pork closely as the brown sugar from the marinate can cause the pork to burn; reduce heat to medium if it appears to be cooking quickly.
Once the pork has an even crust on all sides, transfer to the prepared baking sheet and finish cooking the pork in the oven for approximately fifteen minutes; until the center of the pork registers at 145-150 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
Allow the pork to rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing into thin medallions.
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Combine all ingredients in a small jar and shake vigorously, until well combined. Set aside until ready to use or refrigerate for up to five days.
As always, these portions can be thought of as approximates, so you need not feel as though you actually have to measure out all of the toppings. Adjust to your liking - it’s a salad - we’re casual.
4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup cucumber, diced
1/2 cup raw carrots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup honey sesame almonds*
1 medium ripe avocado, thinly sliced
1 cup mandarin oranges
sesame seeds, optional
*I find these at Trader Joe’s - but you could substitute any nut you like - I think cashews would be great!
Divide salad greens and toppings amongst two bowls and lay the sliced pork atop the salads. Drizzle with the prepared dressing and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.