After a long absence, my husband, Ben, is back with his guest post column entitled One Tablespoon Testosterone, or OTT for short. Enjoy!
Each weekend as my wife is planning meals for the upcoming week, she asks if there’s anything I’d like or if I have any ideas. Generally, my answers range from nothing to worthless until this past weekend. I knew we had unused pork chops, so I grabbed a cookbook and immediately found a recipe that sounded quite enticing. This cookbook was by Rachel Ray, whom a friend of mine from my college town of Athens, Ohio [go Bobcats!!!!!!!] has a massive celebrity crush on [to the point where he's told his girlfriend that he would absolutely break up with her for the chance to be with the celebrity chef]. But anyways… Sarah agreed, and for possibly the first time ever, I felt good about my assistance in the meal selection process.
So come Tuesday night, my pork chops’ assigned cooking date, my wife decides she has absolutely no desire to cook. Why? Because she just wants to bake cookies. As tempting as the idea of cookies for dinner was, I’ve put on a few more pounds than I would like in the last year so I shrugged it off. This meant it was time for OTT to take command of dinner.
And what a delightful dinner it was. Salty pork, crisp almonds, juicy blackberries on spinach drenched in a sweet vinegary dressing. By the way, the cookies were good too. It was a messy kitchen sort of night.
OTT: Pork Chops with Balsamic Blackberry Salad + Orzo [from Rachael Ray’s Look + Cook]
click to print
- 1/2 lb orzo pasta
- 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
- 1 pint blackberries
- 1 T ground basil
- 1 c spinach leaves
- olive oil
- 4 pork chops
- 1/4 c almonds
- 2 T butter
- cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper to taste
This recipe basically consists of making three things: the pork chops, the salad to top the chops, and the orzo to serve on the side. Let’s start with the salad. Put the balsamic vinegar in a small pot and bring to a boil. Once it begins boiling, maintain heating for about 5 minutes, or until it’s reduced by about half and is a thicker, syrupy consistency. Remove from heat. Combine the blackberries [or strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or any other delicious berry], basil, and spinach in a large salad bowl. You should cut the spinach into thin slices. I elected to tear it into small pieces because I’m better at ripping things than cutting them. Sarah was disappointed because it didn’t look as pretty [but she says she still loves me]. Once the vinegar has cooled, you can drizzle it over the salad.
But while it’s cooling, heat a pot of water to boiling for the orzo. When the water’s boiling, add the pasta and cook it however long the box/bag tells you to.
While the pasta’s cooking, you can get to work on the pork chops. Season the chops with some salt and pepper if desired, pour some oil in a large skillet, and once the oil has heated add the chops. Cook the chops for about 4 minutes on each side. I would recommend covering the skillet. Once the chops have cooked, remove them from the pan and roast the almonds for a couple minutes, then remove.
Back to the orzo. When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and melt the butter in the pan. Return the orzo to the pan and stir together. Add the almonds and salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg to taste.
Serve the orzo on the side with the salad topping the pork chops. Or I suppose you could serve the salad on the side with the chops over the orzo. Or even the salad over the chops over the orzo. It all tastes good, so do what seems best to you.
Reader Question ~ If you could have any dessert for dinner on a weekly basis, what would it be? I would have cheesecake. Mmmmm cheesecake… strawberry, blueberry, chocolate, the works. MMMMM!