My Orange and Rosemary Roast Pork Tenderloin with Fennel and Sweet Potatoes is a protein-rich and nutritious meal, that is easy and quick to prepare for a weekday dinner but elegant enough to serve for Easter Sunday.
My inspiration were the sweet and juicy oranges I had in my Easter basket from my friends’ backyards. The other inspiration is that I needed to prepare a healthy meal for my triathlete friend who came for dinner and brought me these lovely daffodils.
According to WebMD, pork tenderloin is nutrient-rich and about 31% leaner than 20 years ago. The pork tenderloin comes from the leanest part of the pig. It has very little saturated fat and is as lean as chicken breast. Because the pork tenderloin is lean, the meat can be dry if over-cooked. To avoid over-cooking, use a meat thermometer.
The sweetness of the roasted fennel and sweet potatoes compliments the flavors of the marinated pork tenderloin. I prepared this dish using both white and orange sweet potatoes. I prefer the orange sweet potatoes because it adds a nice color to the dish, but they are hard to find in my local food markets. Both white and orange sweet potatoes are “superfoods” rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium and potassium. The white sweet potato is a little sweeter and the orange sweet potato is known to contain more beta-carotene. Yams are not the same as sweet potatoes and do not contain the same nutritional value. The white sweet potato has a softer and lighter skin in comparison to the orange sweet potato, which has a darker skin and harder texture.
Serving size: 6
Marinade pork tenderloin overnight or for at least 4 hours. When you are ready to cook the pork tenderloin, preheat oven or grill to 400F.
- 1 orange, zest grated
- 1 ½ cups of freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3-4 oranges)
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons of minced garlic (about 5 cloves)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves (3 sprigs)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ lbs pork tenderloin (3-4 ounces per person)
- 6-7 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds of sweet potatoes
- 2 fennel bulbs (reserving some of the fronds for garnish)
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ cup of water
Prepare the marinade by whisking together orange zest, orange juice, soy sauce, garlic, rosemary, Dijon mustard and ground black pepper. Reserve ½ cup of the marinade and refrigerate. You will use this to make a sauce for the tenderloin later.
Place remaining marinade and the pork tenderloin in a large leakproof and resealable bag. Marinade overnight or for at least 3 hours.
Remove the tenderloins from the marinade and discard the marinade. Leave the herbs that cling to the meat. Sprinkle the tenderloins with freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Cut fennel bulbs across in half then lengthwise into 1 inch quarters. Separate the layers. Toss the potatoes and fennel in 4 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place in large roasting pan. Roast for 25 minutes, tossing a couple times, until potatoes and fennel slightly brown and caramelized.
Heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sear the pork tenderloins on all sides until golden brown about 3 minutes on each side. Push the vegetables to the edges to make room for the pork tenderloin, but it is fine if the tenderloin lays on top of some of it. Roast the tenderloins for 10 to 15 minutes or until the meat registers 145F* at the thickest part.
If necessary, the vegetables can be left to roast a few minutes longer once the pork tenderloin is removed.
Heat reserved marinade with water in sauce pan. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 10 minutes until reduced slightly.
Transfer the tenderloins to a platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Carve in 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices. The tenderloin will be a little pink, which I prefer. Serve on top of fennel and sweet potatoes. Spoon strained sauce over sliced pork. Garnish pork with fennel fronds (leaves).
* Note: The USDA recommends cooking the pork tenderloin to an internal temperature of 145F. At this temperature, the pork tenderloin may be a little pink in the thickest part, which is completely fine.