Date night dinners at home are some of my favorite meals to cook. They are generally cozy recipes that are bursting with flavor but often, require a bit more effort than I want to endure on a normal weeknight for dinner.
You know what also kills a date night vibe? Ruining the dinner you painstakingly prepared, stressing yourself over the timing of all your dishes to be done at the same time and fearing that your date wont be impressed.
So I am here to help make sure none of those things happen with simple, yet impressive and elegant dinners that you can whip up to impress those you love!
It only feels appropriate to start at the very beginning – as in, a MUCH improved version of the first meal I made for Andrew (many, many years ago!)
The pressure was on, I knew I could impress but deciding what to make was daunting! We had only been on a few dates – how was I supposed to know if he liked broccoli or preferred potatoes over pasta?
In a slight panic, I did what every 22 year old, recent college graduate would do – I asked my older friends at work.
So I polled the women of my office – what could I make that was easy enough that I wouldn’t stress myself out with dishes and timelines, didn’t require expensive ingredients or tools (again, 22 year old) and that wouldn’t make my apartment smell like a fast food restaurant. Oh and did I mention this was on a weeknight? So I couldn’t spend all day working on it. With all my parameters. the overwhelming response was pork tenderloin.
And then I made pork tenderloin. And it was good! I seasoned it and roasted it in the oven and served it with potatoes and I think asparagus(?), I’ll have to see if Andrew remembers…
I was so relieved and honestly, also so impressed with myself. I mean, I cooked for myself and my friends all the time but nothing as “fancy” as pork tenderloin. It felt like a real adult meal and to be honest, I started to feel like a real adult at that point too.
Flash forward to 9 years later (and actually only a few weeks away from the Anniversary of our first date) and I have cooked many, many more pork tenderloins over the years. Some admittedly were better than others. But this one is really delicious. It’s also incredibly simple.
There is no marinating required. No fancy glazes. And the pork is only seasoned with salt and pepper. But with the right cooking technique and the incredible citrus herb sauce spooned over the top, it’s really something special and will impress any dinner guest.
Oh and just like our first pork tenderloin – there are potatoes! And they are cooked right in the same skillet with the pork so they roast up beautifully and save you an extra dish to wash.
Lightly dress some greens with olive oil, salt and lemon juice or throw together your favorite salad and you have a total meal in 45 minutes that looks like you spent hours!
Pork Tenderloin with Citrus Herb Sauce
- 1 - 1.5 pound pork tenderloin
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil (or your preferred cooking oil), divided
- 1 pound baby gold potatoes
- black pepper
Citrus Herb Sauce
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
- 1 whole scallion
- juice and zest of 1/2 lemon this yields about 1 TBSP juice and 1/2 tsp zest
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400*
Pat pork tenderloin dry with paper towels and season pork liberally with salt and pepper on all sides
Heat a 12-inch cast iron or nonstick oven-safe skillet over medium high heat and add 1/2 tablespoon of avocado oil. Once oil is hot but not yet smoking, add the pork and let cook undisturbed about 3-4 minutes or until a nice brown crust starts to form.
Continue to brown the pork on all sides. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the baby potatoes with the remaining avocado oil and season with salt and pepper.
Once the pork tenderloin is browned on all sides, add the potatoes to the skillet and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork registers 140*
Once the pork tenderloin reaches 140* remove it from skillet and set on a cutting board to rest for about 15 minutes. While the pork rests, turn the oven up to 450* and continue to roast the potatoes until fork tender, about 15 minutes.***
After 15 minutes, thinly slice the pork and top both the pork and potatoes with the citrus herb sauce.
For the citrus herb sauce
In a food processor, pulse together the parsley, oregano, scallion and lemon zest until finely chopped. Add in lemon juice, red pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and olive oil and process until well combined. ***
**I recommend serving this with some greens tossed with olive oil, lemon juice and salt or your favorite salad. If you would like to roast a veggie side, you can throw seasoned, chopped veggies of your choice into the skillet with the potatoes after you remove the pork tenderloin.
***if you do not have a food processor, you can also make this sauce by finely chopping the herbs and scallions and stir together with the remainder of the sauce ingredients. The flavor will intensify as it sits.
The citrus herb sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead of time if stored in the refrigerator - if making ahead, allow 30 minutes for sauce to come to room temperature before serving as olive oil will congeal when cold.