Our backyard vegetable garden yielded a lot of cucumbers this summer. Often the veggies come in faster than you can eat them but cooking in batches and making the most of leftovers is always a good plan. For instance a cucumber and tomato salad tossed with vinegar and oil will last for a few days. We also have quite a few banana peppers – loaded with antioxidants! You can stuff them with sausage and bake with tomato sauce, or just slice them and saute them in oil, then add to pizza or omelets.
Some people enjoy batch cooking on Sundays. I prefer to relax on the weekend (and unless it’s celebration – no, I dont’ find batch cooking relaxing). Instead, I often cook extra staples during the week. If I make pasta or rice, I’ll cook extra for leftovers. If I’m grilling chicken, I’ll throw on extra pieces. It’s just as easy to roast or grill four pounds of meat as it is two pounds, and you can use the extra in different ways through the week. Last night I did just that – marinated two pieces of lean pork loin and grilled them both. I sliced the grilled roasts and we enjoyed them for dinner with corn on the cob, grilled peaches, cabbage slaw, and a cucumber tomato salad. I made my own version of “pepper poppers” by stuffing banana peppers with cream cheese and roasted those too. (For an appetizer, you can stuff each pepper with plain or herbed cream cheese or goat cheese, then wrap with refrigerated dough and bake for 10-15 minutes. Delicious!)
When you cook extra, the leftovers can serve as ingredients for a whole new meal or dish, and save you lots of time the next night. Yes, leftovers can taste good!
A few notes about the meal:
- Buy fresh pork loin or pork tenderloin. There are a lot of packages in the meat case that are pre-marinated, but not only are these really high in sodium, they also lack flavor. To me, they taste salty yet very bland. It’s so easy to marinate meat. All you need is vinegar or citrus juice. For tougher cuts of meat, pineapple is a great tenderizer also. See the easy marinade I used, and look for other options in cookbooks or online.
- If a recipe says “marinate overnight” you don’t always have to. If it is a tougher cut of meat, you may want to, but marinating for an hour or more still provides flavor and tenderness.
- Chop all the garden veggies you have into a salad or slaw. or roast them all together with onions and garlic in the oven. Peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and other squash varieties are delicious roasted. Just cube them, toss in olive oil, add a pinch of salt, two crushed garlic cloves, and roast for 35-45 minutes.
- Variety in the diet is important, but during sweet corn season? Eat it every night if you want to!
- Add fruit to your meals. Grilled fruit is so delicious with pork and chicken, and can be used in fresh fruit salsas on fish.
Grilled Pork Loin with Peaches
2-4 pounds pork loin, trimmed of fat
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano or 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
4-6 fresh peaches, washed, halved without pit
1-2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- Begin by mixing marinade. Put brown sugar into a gallon zippered storage bag. Add vinegar, water, salt, and oregano. Mix until sugar is dissolved. Add pork loin and seal bag well. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or up to overnight (when ready to grill, remove roast from bag, discard marinade). While pork is marinating, or just before you are ready to grill, prepare peaches. Halve peaches, discard pit. Sprinkle a bit of sugar onto each half.
- Be sure grill is preheated, then turn to low. If you have more than one burner, only turn on one or two, and place pork loin onto grill area in indirect heat. When roast is almost done, place the peaches on the hot grill, skin side up. Turn them in about 10 minutes. Cook pork until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. I use a meat thermometer.
- When pork loin is done, remove from grill to platter and tent with foil. Remove peaches from grill when they are fork tender and slightly caramelized in color.
- Slice the roast into 1/2-inch slices and sere with grilled peaches.
I added steamed corn on the cob, grilled pepper poppers, and cole slaw to this meal.
The Next Day: Peachy Soft Tacos with Slaw
Slice leftover pork and grilled peaches into bite sized pieces. Place pork pieces onto soft tortilla. Microwave for about a minute on 70% power. Top with a few spoons of cole slaw.