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April 2, 2015

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Weeknight Meal — “Moroccan-Inspired”

While on the treadmill recently, I stumbled upon a show on The Food Network called, “The Kitchen.” They were showcasing meals that would be good for or around Easter.  Geoffrey Zacharian demonstrated a pork loin that sounded OUT OF THIS WORLD!  So, THAT’S what’s for dinner tonight! It’s an easy meal to throw together that is suitable for a nice weeknight meal, but also it would be a lovely menu to entertain family or friends as well.







(Adapted from Geoffrey Zacharian)


Love the idea of the pork combined with the sweetness of the medjool dates, and the saltiness of the kalamata olives (which I have a weakness for) as well as the rich flavor of the sausage.  Often pork loins have left me feeling – blah.  They are a bit dry and can be tasteless.  This one should have both of those issues mastered.

One 3-pound pork loin

8 ounces sweet Italian sausage

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped

1/2 cup seeded Medjool dates, chopped

1 TBSP chopped shallots

2 TBSP heavy cream

2 TBSP breadcrumbs

1 egg yolk

2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley

1 TBSP za’atar (***none of my grocery stores carry this item – I ordered it for $2.99 from Amazon – see below. It is a Middle Eastern spice mixture which can include dried herb(s), mixed with sesame seeds, dried sumac , and often salt)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Special equipment: butcher’s twine


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Using a knife, make an slice parallel to the cutting board into the pork loin (butterfly). The incision should run from end to end lengthwise, and leave about 1/2 inch of the pork loin intact opposite the side of the incision. You should be left with the pork loin opened into about an 8-by-10-inch piece (mine was a bit longer than 8×10 because it was a little bit larger pork loin).  Keep the fat layer on the pork loin for added flavor.


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sausage, olives, dates and shallots.


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Mix in the cream, breadcrumbs and egg yolk, and finish with the parsley. Season with the za’atar and some salt and pepper.


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Stuff the pork loin by spreading the mixture down one side of the opened loin and folding over the other half. You should leave about 1/2 inch of extra space for the ends of the pork to seal again, keeping the filling centered. I did not use all my mixture.


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Cut 8 pieces of butcher’s twine and tie the loin together to form it back to its original shape. Place the loin on a roasting rack in a pan, and season with salt and pepper.


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Roast until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F, 50 to 60 minutes. Rest the meat for 10 minutes before slicing.


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

You should have 8 even slices from the roast.


(Adapted from Tyler Florence)


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

This rice pilaf is just the best!  It’s pretty fail proof and packed with flavor – so much better than buying a boxed “rice pilaf” at the grocery store.  And I just love the nutty flavor you get from “toasting” the rice before adding the chicken broth.

3 TBSP unsalted butter

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups basmati-style long grain rice (I used Jasmine as it was what was on hand)

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 sprig fresh rosemary (my rosemary was old, so I threw in a tsp of dried rosemary)


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Melt the butter with the shallot in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Season with the salt and pepper and cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Add the rice and stir until coated with the butter. Increase the heat to medium-high. Let the rice cook until toasted, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes more.


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Stir in the broth, bay leaf, and rosemary.


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Bring to a simmer over low heat, cover, and cook until all the broth has been absorbed by the rice and the rice is tender, about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from the heat and let set for 5 minutes. IMG_8391 Discard the rosemary and bay leaf. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.


(thanks to Geoffrey Zacharian)


2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed

6 very thin slices lemon, or 2 TBSP lemon juice with 1 tsp lemon zest

1/4 cup good extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Parmesan cheese, grated


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Scatter the asparagus and lemon slices on a baking sheet in a single layer (or sprinkle with lemon juice and the zest). Toss with the olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Roast until the asparagus are starting to brown a bit but are still crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Add some grated Parmesan cheese and serve.


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