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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Island Pork Tenderloin Salad with Coconut Bread

 Island Pork Tenderloin Salad

Island Pork Tenderloin Salad 
Coconut Bread--and Happy Easter!
By Victoria Challancin

Cinnamon, coconut, curry, cumin, lime...island flavors combine in such a unique way in this salad, which is perfect for the warmer weather of spring. 

Even though I haven't lived there in almost forty years,  I am still a Florida gal at heart, with the nearby Caribbean island music wafting in my head and island flavors nearly dancing on my tongue.  I may gravitate naturally to Mediterranean food in general, but there are definitely tropical inspirations rearing their heads in my heart.  And this complex, yet brightly and cleanly seasoned salad is a perfect example of the flavors of my youth coming together in one great dish.  Can't you just hear Bob Marley coming from my computer as I type?  So "lively up yourself" and get your island groove on with this tasty, fun hot-weather inspiration.

For some history of Jamaican Jerk and my own recipe for really good Jerk Chicken, click here.

Island Pork Tenderloin Salad

Cook's Notes:  If I hadn't followed this recipe exactly for teaching purposes in a recent class taught to Mexican cooks studying international cooking with me, I probably would have used my own set of seasonings from my Jerk Chicken Recipe, which would definitely include the ubiquitous island allspice, so redolent of the Caribbean.  And yet, this dish is truly perfect as is, with no tinkering required.

Recipe:  Island Pork Tenderloin Salad
(Recipe from
Makes 6 to 8 main-course servings
Cook's Note:  I let my pork cook to 145 degrees F instead of 140 degrees and it was perfect!  I also simply segmented the oranges for the salad instead of slicing them crosswise.

For the pork:
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pork tenderloins (2 1/4 to 1 1/12 pounds total)
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the glaze:
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce (or other hot sauce of choice)

For the vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon curry powder, lightly toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

For the salad:
3 navel oranges
6 oz baby spinach, trimmed (6 cups leaves)
4 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage (from 1 medium head)
1 red bell pepper, cut lengthwise into thin strips
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 firm-ripe California Haas avocados

Prepare pork:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Stir together salt, pepper, cumin, chile powder, and cinnamon.  Coat pork on all sides with the spice rub.

Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until just beginning to smoke, then brown pork, turning, about 4 minutes total.  Leave pork in skillet.

Make glaze and roast pork:  STir together brown sugar, garlic, and Tabasco and pat onto top of each tenderloin.  Roast in middle of oven until thermometer inserted diagonally in center of each tenderloin registers 140 degrees F, about 20 minutes.  Let pork stand in skillet at room temperature for 10 minutes.  (Temperature will rise to about 155 degrees F while standing).  

Make vinaigrette while pork roasts:  Whisk together juices, mustard, curry powder, salt, and pepper, then add oil in a stream, whisking until emulsified.

Prepare salad while pork stands:  Cut peel, including white pith, from oranges with a sharp knife, then cut oranges crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.  Toss spinach, cabbage, bell pepper, and raisins in a large bowl with about 1/4 cup vinaigrette.  Halve, pit, and peel avocados, then cut diagonally in rows on top.  Drizzle some vinaigrette over avocados and oranges.  Pour any juices from skillet over pork.

Island Pork Tenderloin Salad with Coconut Bread 

The Coconut Bread by itself is a wonder.  I thought my son might make himself sick on it, eating it warm (we didn't have time to let it cook before cutting) with great lashings of good butter.  It is one of those recipes that works as an enhancer, giving additional interest and depth to the main-dish salad, and works equally well on its own.  Perfect for tea time.  Great for breakfast.  Good cold.  Heavenly when hot.  Though we made this in class to accompany the salad, it is worthy of starring solo at any time of day or season.

 Recipe:  Coconut Bread
(Recipe from
Makes 1 loaf (8 servings)

Cook's Notes: According to, "This bread is slightly sweet, like some corn breads, and works well ans an accompaniment for the island pork tenderloin salad.  It also makes a nice island-style tea bread when served in the afternoon with lime marmalade and hibiscus tea."

4 cups sweetened flaked coconut (10 oz)
2 cups flour (not cake flour)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 9- x 5- x 3-inch loaf pan, knocking out excess flour.

Toast and grind coconut:  Spread 3 cups coconut in a large shallow baking pan (1 inch deep) and toast in middle of oven, stirring occasionally, until evenly golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.  (Watch flakes carefully; edges burn quickly).  Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 15 minutes, then grind in a food processor to a coarse meal, about 40 seconds (you will have about 1 1/4 cups).  Leave oven on.

Make batter:  Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, ground coconut, and remaining cup (untoasted) coconut in a large bowl.  Beat together butter and sugar in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Whisk 1 cup water into flour mixture, then add egg mixture, whisking just until well blended.

Bake bread:  Pour batter into loaf pan, smoothing top with a spatula, and bake in middle of oven until a wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean and top is evenly brown, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Cool bread to warm in pan on a rack, 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out of pan and set right side up on a rack to cool completely, about 2 hours more.  Cut into 1-inch-thick slices.

Cook's Note from  Bread can be served the day it is made, but it slices more easily if kept, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature 1 day.

Parting Shot: Happy Easter!
Not Easter eggs per se, but organic farm eggs brought by a dear friend

I am submitting this post to Nancy's Spicie Foodie "Your Best Recipe" event.

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.

Like life and love, recipes are meant to be shared, but please ask permission before using text or photos.  Thanks!

10 comments: said...

I am going for that coconut bread. Hope all is weel with you and yours. Happy Easter!

Victoria of Flavors of the Sun said...

Happy Easter to you and your family as well, Norma.

Eha said...

Oh Victoria, this looks so scrumptious it just begs to be made soonest! When I read 'island' my mind travelled straight to places like Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Sandwich Isles the way yours wanders to the Caribbean! The ingredients are not that different actually - pork and fruit and avocado . . . and coconut for that interesting bread. Love your glaze and that vinaigrette!! Eat well, be happy and have a wonderful Easter :) !

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a divine looking dish! :D The pork looks really tender and I love the tropical flavour of this dish :D

Hotly Spiced said...

I love your basket of 'Easter eggs'. What a beautiful looking salad and I think the oranges with the pork would be wonderful. By coincidence, we're having pork and oranges for dinner tonight - but not together! Pork for main course and oranges are in the dessert! Happy Easter xx

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Happy Easter, Victoria. Your pork salad platter looks beautiful. I love orange and avocado does remind me of my time living in Florida.

Joan Nova said...

That's heaping and delicious looking platter.

Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

Victoria of Flavors of the Sun said...

Happy, happyy Easter to each of you, my dear readers!

Nancy said...

I the country where we are born in or the one where we grow up always stay in our hearts. I haven't lived in Mexico for most of my life but I feel very Mexican.

Your tenderloin looks fantastic Victoria! My husband would go crazy for it...and the bread, yum! Thank you for being a part of the YBR this month:)

My Kitchen Stories. said...

It does look lively and fun . Welcome spring and lively up your self too!. Hope you had a good easter