I'm like a thermostat - as soon as the temperatures dip below 70 degrees I turn my oven on and start roasting. It's a switch I look forward to flipping every year. Time in a hot oven transforms food - concentrating and deepening its flavors, caramelizing it and creating crispy surfaces, while cooking gently enough to slowly bring proteins to the perfect temperature. All that and, aside from the occasional toss, once the food is in the oven, it barely needs attention. This recipe showcases how roasting, combined with some stovetop cooking, easily turns everyday ingredients into a spectacularly flavorful, nourishing, autumnal meal.
To start, you place wedges of sweet apple and shallot on a sheet pan, toss with a little oil and salt, and cook until they have become soft, sweet and beautifully browned. Adding a splash of balsamic vinegar about 10 minutes before they're done imbues them with a gently tangy glaze.
While the apples and shallots cook, your hands are free to coat a lean pork tenderloin with mustard and herbs, then sear it in an ovenproof skillet on the stove. That skillet then goes into the oven until the pork reaches a blush-inside, still juicy, 145 degrees. When the pork is done and resting on a cutting board, you return the pan to the stove to create a simple sauce: Add a little broth or water to dissolve the browned bits left in the skillet, and then whisk in mustard, balsamic vinegar and honey.
Back on the sheet pan, you add handfuls of baby spinach leaves and most of the warm sauce to the balsamic-glazed roasted apples and shallots, and toss. This takes the raw edge off of the spinach leaves, but retains their fresh essence in the fashion of a warm spinach salad.
That gorgeous medley is served topped with the sliced herb-crusted pork and drizzled with the remaining pan sauce for a weeknight-friendly meal that will make you glad it's fall or, as I call it, the start of roasting season.