The large, dinner spreads we make for family and friends are often loaded with sugar, fats and calories. Chef Cocoy Ventura developed three recipes exclusively for AARP that provide balance and wholesomeness. Focusing on the seasonality of produce, the recipes feature ingredients that can be found easily at your nearby grocery or farmers market. Best of all, the dishes are easy and quick to make.
- 1 pound natural pork tenderloin
- 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon clove, ground
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- peel of 1 orange
- salt and black pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with a double layer of aluminum foil. Lay tenderloin on prepared sheet and season with salt and black pepper, ground cinnamon and ground clove.
Tuck in the thinner end of loin. Spread mustard onto the seasoned loin (top part only) and encrust with brown sugar. Using a peeler, peel long strips of one orange, avoiding the white pith. Arrange peel on top of the loin. Bake for 20 minutes until caramelized. Optional garnishes: prunes, golden and dark raisins, candied orange peel, radishes.
Caramelized Pearl Onions and Brussels Sprouts
- 15 pearl onions (fresh or frozen)
- 15 Brussels sprouts, washed and cut into halves
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup water or chicken stock
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Over high heat, heat sauté pan and olive oil. When hot, add pearl onions and turn heat down to medium low. Let the onions caramelize and stir with wooden spoon occasionally, approximately 6 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the pearl onions. When golden and soft, add garlic. Sauté and add water or chicken broth, just enough to briefly steam the Brussels sprouts. Stir in Brussels sprouts plus salt and pepper, and cover. Bring heat on high and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until Brussels sprouts are cooked but still bright green. Cook longer if softer vegetables are preferred. Serve hot or cold.
- 5 leaves of tender kale
- 2 grapefruits, segmented (or orange)
- 1 Fuji apple, julienned
- 2 stalks celery, peeled
- 1 cup cashews, roasted (optional; can use other nuts)
Wash kale and remove spine, and cut into ribbons as thin as possible. Cut a whole apple, skin on, into matchsticks. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the outside curve of the celery and cut it into diagonal strips. Peel grapefruit with a sharp paring knife to expose the meat segments; carefully cut segments from the fruit's membranes and set aside. Mix all other ingredients in a big bowl and add the dressing. Before serving, decoratively add grapefruit segments. It's a versatile salad; other elements can be added, such as avocados, dried fruits, cooked grains or cheese. This salad is sturdy and can stand for long periods dressed.
Kale Salad Dressing
- 2 stalks scallion, thinly sliced
- Juice of 2 limes (if you have a microplane, scrape lime rind and add with the juice)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons honey (optional)
- 1 tablespoon mustard, whole grain
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl or a container with lid, and stir liberally or shake before use. Dressing can be stored in a sealed container for five days in the fridge.
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cocoy Ventura is the owner and operator of Cocoy Ventura Culinary Services, provider of various specialized services for restaurants and private operations. Ventura has been instrumental in popularizing healthy Philippine cuisine. He is noted for his easy, light, fresh and uncomplicated cooking methods and serves as culinary director of Gastronomique en Vogue Magazine.
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