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There’s nothing like going away. And little as wonderful as returning home.

…away

…returned

Coming home has its small exquisite happinesses. Especially if you don’t arrive until the middle of the night. As Dorothy says, “There’s no place like home.”  You’re looking at a well-known bathroom and the pillow with which your head is intimately acquainted.  In the morning, it’s a coffee pot with buttons you understand. Oh. And the funny fat squirrel out back who’s terrorized your dogs for months, but now seems to have eaten just a few too many December treats, is waiting to greet you:

Dinner made in your own kitchen with all of your own gadgets the next night–oh sigh and sigh again. A trip to the local store, after a peek into the freezer, found me grilling pork chops on the stove, chopping vegetables, and making a quick coconut Thai sauce to swoon over all of it. Soon we were eating dinner right at our own dining room table as if we’d never been in Florida…


but we had.

I’m hoping you’ll be doing the same one night soon.  Try this:

COCONUT PORK SALAD                                  serves 2

While this looks like a good bit to do, it’s not terribly time-consuming, and is actually easy to accomplish if you spend a few minutes organizing the four cooking chores–rice, sauce, salad, and pork.  I added some acorn squash to the salad only because it was getting tired of sitting on the counter and needed to go somewhere. Use or not.

  • 1 cup cooked basmati rice, salted and peppered
  • Salad (recipe below)
  • 2 bone-in, 1 1/2-inch thick loin pork chops
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Lime, cut in half
  • Sauce (recipe below)

Divide rice between two plates or shallow bowls.  Top each with half of the salad. Set aside.  Heat grill to medium-high.  Brush chops with oil and season well with salt and pepper.  Brown pork chops on each side for two minutes; reduce heat, cover, and cook until temperature is at 140 degrees Fahrenheit–another 7-8 minutes or so, turning to assure even cooking. Remove to a plate and let rest 3 minutes.  Top each serving of rice and salad with a chop, drizzle with lime juice, and spoon sauce over all.  Garnish with reserved toasted coconut and green onions. Serve while chop is warm.

–stove-top grill pan

SALAD:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut (reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup chopped, cooked acorn squash, optional
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/4 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into eighths
  • 2 scallions minced (save half for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup each fresh cilantro and mint leaves
  • olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Toast 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut in a 375 degree oven for a 3-4 minutes, watching closely, until lightly browned. Remove and set aside to cool.

Cut an acorn squash–if using– in half horizontally and scoop out seeds and fibers. Place upside down in a microwave-safe dish, add 1/2-inch water, and cover. Microwave at full power for 5 minutes.  Remove, let cool, trim, and slice. Set aside. You’ll need only 1/2 cup; reserve the remainder for another use.

Toss together arugula, red onion, tomatoes, scallions, minced, fresh cilantro and mint leaves, and all but 2 tablespoons of the cooled coconut (reserve rest for garnish) with a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper; toss again.

SAUCE:

  • 1 tablespoon each minced garlic and ginger
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 jalapeno, minced (no seeds or membranes)
  • 1/2 stick white portion of lemongrass, minced*
  • 6 cilantro stems
  • 1/2 can (7.5 ounces) unsweetened low-fat coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • Juice of half a lime

In a small saucepan, cook minced garlic and ginger in a tablespoon of olive oil over low heat for a minute.  Add jalapeño, lemongrass and the cilantro stems;let cook another minute or two until tender.  Stir in 1/2 can unsweetened, low-fat coconut milk, bring to a low simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in 2 teaspoons fish sauce and juice of half a lime. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside until needed.

*No lemongrass?  Sub a teaspoon of grated lemon zest.

This dish was inspired by a favorite Tyler Florence recipe.

Dieter’s Note:  The coconut, despite being unsweetened, is highly caloric at 200 calories per 1/4 cup. Leave it out or cut it down to a small garnish if you’re slimming. Watching carbs?  Skip the rice.

{printable recipe}


IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE MY…

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BBQ PORK CHOP SALAD

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Looking at trimming off a few of the holiday cookies and restaurant meals, but are unsure which way to turn? Start here by COMPARING HEALTHY DIETS. Be well in 2018, my friends! Cooking at home is a super and entertaining part of being healthy and I’m so looking forward to cooking with you.  Thanks for spending more time at the table. Stay tuned and…

Sing a new song because it’s good for your soul, you know,

Alyce