Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pan Roasted Pork Chops with Pea Shoot Pesto

     "Good," was the one word response that I received via text from Dear Daughter when I asked her about early morning swim practice.  I did not hear back from her until nearly twelve hours later when she sent me this text, "Hey Mom.  Do I have an account so I don't have to pay cash because I don't have enough money for what I want."  This must be a glimpse into my future.
     Dear Daughter is at a local college for a one week intensive swim camp.  It is her first "sleepaway" camp and while she is quite used to travel and new experiences, this is a biggie.  When I dropped her off on Monday, I suddenly became a horrible mother for "leaving me in a place like this."  She nearly crumbled into tears, couldn't figure out why she didn't have  a roommate and was stumped at how to lock her dorm room door.  I took a deep breath, put on a big smile, didn't attempt to kiss her goodbye in front of everyone and quickly escaped to my car.  Later that evening, she was better but I was still getting text messages from her at 11pm.  She had a roommate but was not "bonding" with her and she was hot.
     Tuesday's flurry of text messages were all "happy".  She had made friends, had worked out well at the practices and was actually enjoying the cafetaria food.  All must have been well with the world as by Wednesday, she vaguely remembered she had parents.  I guess this is what I need to expect.  However, in all honesty, I have no problems with the lack of communication.  Frankly, that means that she is having a good time.  Perhaps I am not a horrible mother after all.  .
     In the meantime, I have been cooking up a storm this week but those three little green aliens (aka romanesco) are still lurking in the bottom of my vegetable bin.  I am running out of time as I get my next CSA shipment tomorrow.  Other than that, we have enjoyed our veggies this week.  While I had intended to use the squash in a gratin, I saw a wonderful pasta dish and made it instead.  Yum, yum - it was delicious but how could it not be with milk, butter, cheese and pasta?  The asparagus was going into a frittata for last night's dinner but Dear Husband had a better dinner idea...let's have a picnic at the lake.  "Did he say picnic?  Down by the lake?"  The asparagus would have to wait.
     The pea shoots made the base of a tasty pesto and mixed into the accompanying salad, it added a depth of flavor.  This is a very simple dish but looks and tastes as if you worked for hours.

Pan Roasted Pork Chops with Pea Shoot Pesto
Adapted from the New York Times

Pan Roasted Pork Chops with Pea Shoot Pesto

For Pea Shoot Pesto
3/4 cup pine nuts
3 cups pea shoots
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the Pork Chops
4 (1 1/4 in thick) bone-in pork chops
1 clove garlic, halved
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the Salad
2 cups of pea shoots
1 small bunch arugula
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Lemon juice for drizzling
Sea Salt
Black pepper

To make the pasta, heat a small skillet over medium-low heat, and toast the pine nuts, tossing occasionally, until golden.  Set aside to cool briefly.  In a food processor or blender, combine the pea shoots, 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, cilantro, Parmesan, garlic and salt.  Pulse until roughly chopped.  With the motor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil and blend until well combined.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Rub pork chops all over with cut side of garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  In a large ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until shimmering.  Sear pork chops until well browned, about 3 minutes a side.  Transfer skillet to oven.  Cook until the chops register 140 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes.  Let stand in skillet for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss together pea shoots, arugula, remaining pine nuts, cilantro and shallot.  Toss with enough olive oil to lightly coat greens and then drizzle with lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Divide salad amount 4 plates. Place a port chop on each bed of greens.  Top chops with pesto and spoon any pan juices over each plate.  

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