Rush Hour

I love serving meals that give the impression I've spent a lot of time planning and preparing them. It makes my loved ones feel special and reminds them that part of sharing meals together is sharing the love that comes from serving good food to good company. However, that does not mean that I want to spend hours putting together dinner in the middle of the week ... I just want it to seem that way!

That's one the reasons that I love preparing dishes that use pork tenderloin. It's a wonderful cut of meat that cooks to culinary perfection in minutes instead of hours. It's also a very lean and healthy cut of meat that blends well with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and grains.

This month's recipe pairs a single pork tenderloin with zucchini and onions -- two of my favorite vegetables. You begin by pan searing the tenderloin to give the exterior a great texture and start the cooking process right. Then you add a mixture of zucchini and onions to the skillet and pop the whole thing in the oven to finish the meal. While it bakes, you can prepare the rest of the meal. You might want to make a simple side dish of couscous to spoon the vegetables over or simply offer a wonderfully soft loaf of bread for soaking up the juices from the meat and veggies. When the meal's ready, you have an incredibly tender cut of meat that's paired with slightly carmelized onions and juicy bits of zucchini -- all infused with a simple garlic pepper flavor.

With a dinner this simple, you can offer your loved ones at the table the best of both worlds: a meal that seems exceptional and a prep time that seems achievable, even in the middle of the week. What's more is that it only leaves you with one pan to clean! Think of it as a special gift in the middle of the hectic holiday season. Enjoy!

Pork Tenderloin with Zucchini and Onions

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pork tenderloin -- about 1 lb., trimmed of visible fat
  • 2 c. cubed zucchini
  • 1 large red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Heat a large skillet with a metal handle over medium heat. Spray evenly with cooking spray and add the pork tenderloin. Brown evenly, turning occasionally to avoid burning.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables and toss with the salt, pepper and garlic.

Remove the skillet from the heat and arange the vegetables around the pork tenderloin. Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the tenderloin and place the skillet into the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until the thermometer registers 160 degrees.

Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the vegetables to a serving platter. Cover the skillet and allow the pork to rest for about 5 minutes. Then transfer it to a cutting board and slice it into one inch thick slices. Arrange the pork over the vegetables on the serving platter. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes