Meal that beats Chinese carryout

Menu: Cheap dinner, faster than takeout, features cucumber-arugula salad paired with pork tenderloin and noodles.

May 19, 1999|By Bev Bennett | Bev Bennett,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

You can make a great meal faster than you can pick up dinner at a Chinese carryout.

But if that's not enough to convince you to get into the kitchen, how about a stronger argument? You can make a great meal that is cheaper, quicker and probably more healthful than one you buy.

Since you're no doubt convinced, here's the menu: Cucumber and Arugula Salad and Noodles With Baby Bok Choy and Pork Tenderloin. The recipes serve two, but feel free to double or triple them for your needs.

First, make the salad, a combination of delicately flavored cucumber and zesty arugula. Just dice cucumber, tear up arugula and stir together the dressing ingredients. Let the salad's flavors develop while you put together the entree.

The only slow step in the main course is cutting up the pork. If you have the time, put the meat in the freezer for an hour before slicing it. You'll find meat is easier to slice if it is very firm. Some supermarkets carry diced or sliced pork for stir-fry. You can substitute pre-cut meat.

You may not get a fortune cookie as you would with a carryout, but you can predict more free time in your future.

Cucumber and Arugula Salad

Serves 2

1 large cucumber, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes

1 packed cup arugula leaves

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon minced chives

salt, freshly ground white pepper

Place cucumber in salad bowl.

Remove stems from arugula. Tear leaves into bite-size pieces. Add arugula to cucumber.

In cup, stir together lemon juice, sugar, oil, chives and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over cucumbers and toss well. Set aside 5 minutes for flavors to blend. Spoon onto 2 salad plates.

Noodles With Baby Bok Choy and Pork Tenderloin

Serves 2

2 tablespoons oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2-by-1-inch strips

4 baby bok choy, cut into 1-inch chunks

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon lemon juice

salt, freshly ground pepper

3 ounces Chinese plain noodles, cooked (see note)

Heat oil in medium skillet or wok. Add onion and saute over high heat 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add pork and saute 3 minutes. Add bok choy, crushed red pepper flakes, hoisin sauce, ginger and soy sauce and saute over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, spoon noodles onto serving plate. Top with pork, vegetables and skillet juices. Toss well.

Note: Look for thin, yellow noodles. The product usually comes in a 6-ounce package. Half is needed for this recipe.

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