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Pesto Pork with Polenta and Spinach

My stack of magazines was perilously close to resembling the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Keeping a 6-month-old baby entertained all day and working from home at night leaves little free time to browse the latest Food Network or Bon Appetit magazines. I finally decide to tackle one or two magazines a weekend, bookmarking recipes I want to try, and tearing out "how to" tips to save.

This Pesto Pork recipe stood out to me for a few reasons. It's different from our usual repertoire of dishes. It's relatively light and healthy, with under 500 calories, 18 grams of total fat (4 grams saturated fat), and 8 grams of fiber. And if you're pressed for time, simply substitute store-bought pesto for homemade. Just be aware that you'll add calories and fat, since most pesto recipes contain pine nuts and cheese. 

The pesto below has a light, subtle lemon-flavor. If I were to make it again, I would increase the amount of garlic to two cloves. Definitely season the polenta with salt and pepper; next time, I may flavor it with a grating of Parmesan cheese. 

If using store-bought pesto, start at Step 3. If making the pesto as directed below, it can be made ahead of time, and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator. Again, start at Step 3. 

Pesto Pork with Polenta and Spinach
Slightly adapted from: Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 ¼ cups coarsely chopped scallions (about 8 stalks)
  • 2 cloves garlic (1 whole, 1 thinly sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Finely grated zest of ½ a lemon, plus juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 12- to 14-ounce tube prepared polenta, sliced
  • 8 ounces baby spinach

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with nonstick spray. 
  2. Place the parsley, basil, scallions, whole garlic clove, Worcestershire sauce, lemon zest and the juice of 1 lemon in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, stream in 2 tbsp olive oil.
  3. Coat each pork chop on both sides with ¼ cup of the pesto. Season ½ cup of the remaining pesto with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and sear for two minutes on each side. Transfer to the baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes, or until thermometer registers 145 degrees. Meanwhile, cook the polenta as the label directs.
  5. Heat the remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the spinach, 1 ½ tablespoons of the pesto mixture and 2 tbsp water; cook, stirring, until wilted, 3 minutes. Slice the pork; serve with the polenta, spinach and remaining pesto mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

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