During the summer, you can increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, add more color to your dinner plate and save calories if you use homemade salsas and relishes as the base for accompaniment to grilled meats.
This may sound like a lot of work, but if you can chop a tomato, peach or red pepper and add a few seasonings, you can make a zesty accompaniment for a piece of grilled pork or beef at a fraction of the calories of a butter or cream sauce.
Both savory and sweet flavor combinations work. My preference is to use sweet, fruit-based salsas or relishes for poultry. Peaches, plums and nectarines are a marvelous match for chicken or turkey, and especially the dark meat. I like to accent beef and fish with a juicy vegetable mixture using cucumbers, red peppers or sweet onions.
Pork is delicious with either a fruit or vegetable accent. Lean pork tenderloin, a favorite meat cut for many grill enthusiasts, can be tricky to prepare. A little too much heat and the meat dries out. But a relish or salsa keeps the meat tasting moist and flavorful, even if it's overcooked.
This time of the year when red peppers are at their most succulent, make a red-pepper relish for pork. Begin by blackening red peppers over an open flame. Then place the peppers in a paper bag to cool and loosen the skins. Peel and chop the peppers and mix with shallot, cumin, capers, lemon juice and olive oil. You can make this up to three days in advance and add minced parsley just before serving.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin With Red-Pepper Relish
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano or 1/2 crushed dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt, freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small pork tenderloin (about 10 ounces)
2 roasted red peppers (see note)
1 shallot, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon small capers
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced Italian parsley
In cup, combine garlic, oregano, ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste and olive oil. Smear onto pork tenderloin. Place pork on plate and refrigerate 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat coals. Grill tenderloin until thoroughly cooked, about 15 minutes. Remove from grill. Let meat rest 5 minutes, then slice 1/3 -inch thick.
While pork is resting, prepare relish. Seed and finely chop roasted red peppers. Combine in bowl with shallot, cumin seeds, capers, lemon juice, oil, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.
To serve, arrange pork slices on platter and serve relish on the side.
Note: You can buy roasted red peppers if you prefer. Pour off the brine before using.