Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Feasting on a budget: Summer Salad and Pork Chops

I have to say, this is the perfect time of year for eating in season, because all the best fruits and vegetables are ripe for the plucking (and shredding and sauteeing and souping and...)

We hit the farmer's market for our weekly feast, and came out with a salad that surprised us on how delicious it was. Throw in some BOGO pork chops and we come away with a meal that was cheap, healthy, and delicious.

Shopping list (from the farmer's market unless otherwise noted):
siberian kale* ($2.50)
2 fresh large tomatoes ($2.50)
blackberries & raspberries ($7 total for a pint of each)
basil ($2 for a bunch)
pickled cucumbers ($1.50-homemade pickles courtesy of one of the group)
onion ($1)
1 loaf fresh bread ($4)
BOGO pork chops, 2 lbs (estimated $7.50 from Harris Teeter)
cheap white wine ($4 from Harris Teeter)
Total: $32 for 3 people (could feed 4; we had to wait a good hour after salad before we could eat the pork!)

"Pantry" ingredients (stuff in the pantry):
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
cracked black pepper
sea salt


Toss blackberries and raspberries into a big bowl. Rinse and eat.

Summer Salad:
Rinse everything before preparing. Remove stems from kale and chop or rip the leaves into a large bowl. Roughly chop the basil and add to salad. Chop tomatoes into chunks and add to bowl. Chop about 1/4 onion and add to salad. Toss in pickled cucumbers (Note from pickler: pickling juice can be kept for reuse.) Add cracked black pepper, a little sea salt, and balsamic vinegar and olive oil; serve with fresh bread. Bread can then be dipped in "dressing" for extra flavor.

Pork chops with gravy:
Heat pan to medium-high. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil. When pan is hot, salt pork chops and place in pan salt-down. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Salt other side and flip. When edges begin to come up off bottom of pan (about another 3-5 minutes; minimum safety temp 140F), take them out, place on plate, and cover with tin foil to keep warm. Pour about 1 1/2 cups white wine into pan to deglaze. Scrape sides to make sure all the tasty goodness is soaking in, chop remaining onion and add, and reduce. When liquid has reduced by at least half, add a couple pats of butter, mix, and pour over pork chops as gravy.

*There is some debate as to whether the siberian kale was actually kale or if I accidentally picked up collard greens instead. I maintain that it was siberian kale (it's not as curly as the kind we usually see in our market). Use whichever more appeals to you.

I'll admit being the one to suggest using the kale for a salad (I may have munched the leaves on the way home from the market and declared them delicious, been called odd, and then forced the others to try a bite, thus winning my case), but everyone else agreed that they made a truly terrific - and rather unique - base to the salad, combining extremely well with the basil that acted as our second type of greens. The cucumbers could also be added raw and would be delicious that way, too.

What interesting salads have you had? If you try this recipe, what do you think? 

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