This is a recipe for a pork chop served on top of “mashed” cauliflower, served with a simple arugula, avocado and cherry tomato salad. Ingredients:
- two bone-in pork chops
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper in a grinder
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 5 cups cauliflower, chopped and steamed
- I Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 4 cranks on a pepper grinder of black pepper
- ½ cup plain, unsweetened almond milk
Arugula, Avocado and Tomato Salad
- a few handfuls of arugula
- a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 avocado, chopped
- A splash olive oil
- A slightly smaller splash of balsamic vinegar
As you can see, you don’t need too many ingredients to make this dish: Take out all of your ingredients. I like to start by preheating the oven to 450 degrees. Once you have your oven heating up, I move onto steaming the cauliflower, because that’s the task that takes the longest. Either wash and cut up your cauliflower, or cut open one of those bags of pre-cut and washed cauliflower that they sell at most grocery stores. I really like to buy pre-cut and pre-washed veggies, as it makes prep so much faster. I like to steam my vegetables in a little Cuisinart steamer, but you can steam any way you like. The Microwave works too. It’s not really important how you steam it, you just want the cauliflower to be mushy so that it will mash well. Use what you’ve got.
While the Cauliflower is steaming wash your veggies for the salad. Throw a few handfuls of the arugula in a bowl, then throw in the tomatoes, and the diced avocado. You can sort of eyeball how big of a salad you want. I usually buy bags of the washed arugula, as this makes life easier. I find washing lettuce to be an unduly hard task. Avocados are some of my favorite foods, and cutting them doesn’t have to be a challenge. I have found a really easy way to get rid of the skin and the pit, and to get to the good stuff. Start by holding the avocado in your hand and using a knife to cut all the way to the pit, and then all the way around the avocado. Once you’ve cut all the way around, give each side a little twist, and the two halves will come apart. To get rid of the pit, place the middle of your knife on the pit and push down, so that the knife cuts into and sits in the pit. Make sure your fingers are out of the way, and give the knife a quarter turn twist, clockwise. The pit should pop right out. From here, if you have an avocado that’s behaving, you can just peel it. If the skin doesn’t come off easily, bisect the avocado one more time, and run a knife between the skin and the fruit, like this:
After you have your avocado, tomatoes and arugula happy in a bowl, I like to drizzle olive oil and vinegar over the salad, and let it sit while everything is cooking.
Now it’s time to cook the pork chops. I am a big fan of cast iron skillet cooking. You can use any pan that can go from stovetop directly into oven, but there is something amazing about perfectly cast iron cooks meat. The pans are also really cheap. Start by searing both sides of the meat, and finishing it off in the oven. Put the cast iron skilled over your burner, and turn heat to high. Put the pork chops on a plate and liberally cover with the salt and pepper. I like my pork chops really salty and crisp. Don’t forget to salt and pepper the sides of the meat. That’s the best part. When the cast iron skillet is nice and hot, drizzle it with the olive oil. Use a paper towel to evenly spread the oil over the pan (don’t burn yourself). When the olive oil is hot add the pork chops, seasoned side down on the cast iron skillet. Wait for two minutes. While the pork chops are searing, cover the other side with the rest of the salt and pepper.
When the two minutes are up, flip the pork chop and sear the other side for two minutes. Once the two minutes are up, finish the pork chops off in the 450 degree oven. Move the cast iron skillet to the middle rack of the oven and cook for two minutes.
After two minutes, take the chops out of the oven, flip, and put them back in for another two minutes. After a total of four minutes, pull out the cast iron skillet. I’ve learned the hard way that the handle of the cast iron skillet in a 450 degree oven is very hot. Very, very hot. So, use an oven mitt. Pull the chops out of the oven, and set on a cutting board to relax while you finish up the cauliflower.
At this point in time, you’ll turn your attention back to the cauliflower. The cauliflower should be thoroughly steamed. Transfer the cauliflower to a blender or food processer. I really like my Vitamix blender for this, and almost every kitchen task. Don’t dispair if you don’t have a Vitamix or other blender/food processor. As they say, there’s more than one way to mash a cauliflower… You can also “mash” the cauliflower just like you would mash potatoes. If you’re following this method, transfer the cauliflower into a large bowl, and smash it with a potato masher, a wooden spoon, or anything else you have handy. Add ½ cup unsweetened, unflvoared almond milk, 1 tsp. salt, and a few cracks black pepper, and 1 Tbsp olive oil and blend/mash/smash. Whatever process you use, it’s sure to be delicious. As a tip, don’t use sweetened or vanilla flavored almond milk. One time, I accidently used vanilla almond milk and my mash tasted like sugary cereal milk. Not delicious. You can substitute broccoli for cauliflower as well, or do a mix of broccoli and cauliflower. FYI, if you do add broccoli, your mash will be green. Who doesn’t love green food? When you have sufficiently mashed the cauliflower, taste it. Is it salty enough? If not, add salt or otherwise adjust seasoning as needed.
Congratulations, you’ve cooked dinner! You’re done! Toss the salad, and scoop it onto a big plate. Using a spoon, scoop out and serve some cauliflower, and place the succulent pork chop on top of the mash. There you go! Dinner is served. I hope this recipe makes you feel a little less hungry, even if you’re still tired.