Fennel is an underutilized vegetable. It adds such a wonderful savory-sweet complexity to dishes. Fennel bulbs are high in fiber, contributing to heart health, and they are a good source of phosphorus, magnesium and calcium. Fennel has also been used medicinally all over the world for various ailments, everything from upset stomach and nausea to improved breastmilk production. It also has a pleasant and refreshing flavor, and the seeds are often eaten after meals similar to a mint.
The other star of this recipe is the pork loin. Fun fact: pork is a “red meat.” It appears pale when compared to something like beef because of myoglobin, a protein that delivers oxygen to your cells and accounts for the redness of meats. Pork has less myoglobin than beef, making it appear “white.” Remember though, the American Heart Association advises to limit your red meat intake, not because it’s red, but because of the high amounts of saturated fats that are found in red meats. When you do eat red meats, aim for leaner cuts, such as the loin in this recipe.
- 2 medium bulbs fennel, cut into sixths
- 2 medium red onions, cut into sixths
- 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 1 whole pork tenderloin (1 to 1 1/4 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Adjust rack to middle position and place an empty 13- by 9-inch baking dish in the middle. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a large bowl, toss fennel, onions, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. When the oven is hot, remove the baking dish, add the vegetables and return to oven. Roast, stirring occasionally, until starting to tenderize, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, drizzle 2 teaspoons of olive oil over pork and season with salt and pepper. Rub fennel seeds and thyme leaves on exterior. When vegetables are ready, remove baking dish from oven, and push the vegetables to the sides of the dish with a spatula or wooden spoon. Place the pork in the center and return to oven. Roast until the thickest part of the pork registers 145°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
While the pork is resting, whisk together remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Slice the pork into thick rounds, and plate along with the roasted fennel and onion. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the top. Serve immediately. Makes 3 to 4 servings.
Serving size: 5 oz tenderloin and ½ – 1 cup fennel
Calories: 201 Fat: 5.6g Carbs: 12.1g Fiber: 3.7g Protein: 30.5g Sodium: 861.7mg
Recipe adapted from Fennel-Roasted Pork Tenderloin With Sweet Onions Recipe (seriouseats.com)