Main Dishes

Pork Tenderloin with Herb Rub
The USDA now advises us to cook pork to an internal temperature of 145°F, then allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes. The lower temperature makes for a more juicy, tender meat. I use a cast-iron skillet to brown the meat, then put the same skillet into the oven. (Saves on cleanup.) We like this with a side of gnocchi and herbed brown butter.

1 1/2- or 2-pound pork tenderloin
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 lemon sliced

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Trim extra fat from the meat. In a bowl or cup, mix garlic, herbs, chili and onion powders, salt, and pepper. Rub over the pork, pressing it into the meat.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat with the oil and place the pork tenderloin in the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, turning every couple of minutes until the whole is lightly browned. Put the skillet in the oven and roast for 10-12 minutes.

Layer the lemon slices on top of the meat and cook for 10-12 additional minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 145°F. (Use a meat thermometer.) Remove from the oven, cover the skillet with foil, and let stand for 5-8 minutes. Slice and serve.

Penne with Seven Fresh Herbs
In this recipe, an ordinary bowl of pasta becomes a zippy, fresh-tasting main dish meal with the addition of garden-fresh basil, oregano, rosemary, chives, thyme, and parsley. If you use dried herbs, cut the amounts by half. Good meatless, but if you like, you can add cooked sausage, chicken, or shrimp.

1 pound uncooked penne pasta
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 pints fresh grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil, basil, oregano, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Toss until pasta is coated. Set aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a larger skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and tomatoes; sauté 2 minutes. Add chives and thyme; sauté 1 additional minute, or until tomato skins begin to soften. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cook over high heat 1-2 minutes, then add tomato-herb mixture to pasta. Add chopped parsley and toss all gently to combine. Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately to four.

Creamy Basil Lasagna
A nice change from the usual red-sauce lasagna.

12 ounces lasagna noodles
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
salt, pepper
pinch nutmeg
2 cups warm milk
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
2 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook the lasagna noodles in boiling salted water, a few at a time, until al dente. Remove carefully and drain between clean towels. Melt butter in a saucepan and stir in flour to make a roux. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste and cook over a gentle heat until flour begins to brown. Gradually stir in warm milk until sauce is smooth and thickened.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon basil, ricotta, and half the Parmesan (1/4 cup). In a greased baking dish, place layer of noodles, followed by a thin layer of sauce. Sprinkle this with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and basil, thyme, and parsley, mixed. Continue to layer, topping with the sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Chicken and Asparagus with Herbs
Don’t let the elegant look of this fool you. It is so easy. If you’d like a sauce, Dijon is a tangy complement to both chicken and asparagus.

2 tablespoons butter
3-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon minced fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
salt and pepper, to taste

Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in garlic and herbs and cook until the garlic is fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add chicken thighs. Cook for 5-7 minutes, turn and cook additional 5-7 minutes. (Chicken will not be completely cooked.)

Push the chicken to one side. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the empty side. When melted, add asparagus, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 4-6 minutes, shaking pan a couple of times. Asparagus should be tender and chicken cooked through. If you like, serve with Dijon sauce.

Dijon Sauce

1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons minced parsley (or a mix of parsley, tarragon, thyme, dill)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all together well.

Lemon-Herb Salmon
Rosemary makes a subtle difference, but be sure to mince the needles very fine. They don’t soften much in baking.

6 4-ounce fillets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1⁄4 cup lemon juice
1⁄8 cup lime juice
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 1⁄2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1⁄2 teaspoon dill weed
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Lightly spray a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange salmon fillets skin side down, in a single layer. Mix salt and sugar and evenly sprinkle over salmon. Combine juices and pour evenly over salmon. Mix herbs and garlic and evenly spread over salmon. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. Before baking, drizzle with melted butter. Bake at 400°F for about 15-18 minutes, or until opaque in the middle. (Thicker fish takes longer.) Serves 6.