What’s better than a beautiful spring or summer evening where you can be outside enjoying the sun? How about making a quick and healthy dinner that you will feel good about eating and that doesn’t take all your time to make? Both are ideal in my book, and this Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Marinated Cucumber-Fennel Salad is the perfect recipe when it comes to an easy, healthy grilled dinner.
If you’ve ever felt like you eat chicken ALL THE TIME, you need to rotate in pork tenderloin more often. Because tenderloin is the most tender part of the pork loin, it’s easy to keep it juicy and tender when you cook it. Plus, because it’s a longer and more narrow than regular pork loin roasts, it cooks quickly, making it a perfect fit for a weeknight meal.
When I’m grilling pork, I almost always give it a quick marinade before throwing it on the grill.
Why Should I Marinate Pork Tenderloin?
Many people believe that marinating meat will make it more tender, however, this isn’t the case unless a tenderizing ingredient is added to the marinade. Because pork tenderloin is already a tender cut of meat, adding a tenderizer isn’t necessary.
Soaking pork tenderloin in a marinade before cooking it will add flavor to the meat and that’s why I do it!
How Long Should I Marinate Pork Tenderloin?
When there is vinegar in a marinade, the acid in the vinegar can cause the protein in the meat to tighten, resulting in tougher meat. This typically only happens if the meat is marinated for too long.
So, it’s important not to over-marinate pork tenderloin. A marinating time of 1 to 2 hours is perfect.
One Marinade, Two Uses
One of my favorite parts of this recipe is that the base part of the marinade is also used as the vinaigrette for the cucumber-fennel salad. It’s important to remember that you won’t be using the marinade that the meat was soaking in for the salad – that would not be food safe since it would have been touching raw meat!
To avoid this, you will stir together the base of the marinade, DIVIDE it, and then use half for the meat marinade and half for the cucumber-fennel salad. Make sense?
If you want to add just one more component to this Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Marinated Cucumber-Fennel Salad, you can make a few grilled kabobs using cherry tomatoes and larger pitted green olives.
I know it may sound a little odd to grill olives, but they taste so good when warmed a bit, especially when you eat one together with a tomato. The flavor will literally burst in your mouth, and I think you’ll be happy you took the extra time (which is very little!) to make the kabobs.
Now, I want you to give this Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Marinated Cucumber-Fennel Salad a try and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below! Happy cooking!
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Marinated Cucumber-Fennel Salad
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or ½ teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed*
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed*
- 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin
- 1 medium fennel bulb
- 1 cup very thinly sliced English cucumber
- 1/3 cup slivered sweet onion
- 4 (10-inch) skewers
- 20 cherry tomatoes
- 12 large green olives, stuffed or unstuffed
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf)parsley or basil
- In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, oil, mustard, salt, and pepper. Pour half the vinegar mixture into a large bowl for the salad. Pour remaining vinegar mixture into a medium bowl for the pork.
- Add rosemary and fennel seeds to the vinegar mixture in the medium bowl for the pork. Using a thin, sharp knife, remove the thin silver skin membrane from the pork tenderloin. If the tenderloin is very thin on one end, fold the end over onto itself and use a short length of kitchen string to tie around the end to keep it folded over.
- Add pork to the marinade that has the rosemary added. Turn pork to fully coat with the marinade. Cover; marinate pork in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, cut tops off the fennel bulb. Cut a thin slice off the base of the bulb. Cut bulb in half; cut out the core and discard. Cut remaining bulb into very thin slices. Add to the large bowl with other half of the vinegar mixture. Add cucumber and onion. Toss vegetables until well coated with the vinegar mixture. Cover; chill up to 3 hours, stirring once or twice.
- If using bamboo skewers, soak skewers in enough water to cover for 30 minutes. When ready to grill, thread tomatoes and olives evenly onto skewers.
- Remove pork from the marinade; discard remaining marinade. For a charcoal or gas grill, grill pork over medium coals or medium heat for 18 to 22 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of the pork registers 145°Transfer pork to a serving platter; cover with foil. Let rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.
- While pork is resting, add tomato kabobs to the grill over medium coals or heat. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes or until tomatoes are just softened and olives and tomatoes are starting to brown, turning kabobs once halfway through grilling.
- Just before serving, add parsley to the chilled cucumber salad; toss to combine. Slice pork and serve with salad and tomato kabobs.