Pecan-crusted pork tenderloin perfect for family dinner

American Pecan Council
Pecan-crusted pork tenderloin
American Pecan Council Pecan-crusted pork tenderloin

SUNDAY (Family) -- Prepare pecan-crusted pork tenderloin for the family (see recipe). Serve with your own roasted potato wedges, fresh green beans and a red-tipped lettuce salad. Add a baguette. For dessert, top angel food cake with blueberries.

PLAN AHEAD: Prepare an extra (plain) pork tenderloin, and save some cake for Monday.

SHOPPING LIST: cooking spray, pork tenderloins, coarse salt, pepper, light brown sugar, less-sodium soy sauce, garlic, pecans, pineapple juice, Dijon mustard, potatoes, green beans, red-tipped lettuce, baguette, angel food cake, blueberries.

MONDAY (Heat and Eat) -- Use the leftovers to make pork-potato hash: Cook 1 medium chopped onion and 1 medium chopped red bell pepper in a little olive oil until softened. Add 3 cups mashed potatoes, 2 cups chopped cooked (leftover) pork and 1 cup frozen (thawed) tiny green peas. Cook, stirring often, until browned. Serve with reduced-fat sour cream.

Add a green salad and whole-grain bread. Spoon a dab of vanilla ice cream over leftover cake for dessert.

TIP: I've been using refrigerated prepared plain mashed potatoes lately, and they are quite good. There are a variety of brands. I choose the ones with the lowest calories and sodium.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough ice cream for Saturday.

SHOPPING LIST: onion, red bell pepper, olive oil, mashed potatoes, frozen tiny green peas, reduced-fat sour cream, salad greens, whole-grain bread, vanilla ice cream.

TUESDAY (Budget) -- This Brunswick stew with smoked paprika (see recipe) is one of the best I've had in a long time, and it's economical, too. Serve the one-dish meal with mixed greens and crusty rolls. Pears are dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: Yukon gold potatoes, onion, frozen corn, frozen baby lima beans, tomato sauce, unsalted chicken broth, bacon, cooked chicken, smoked paprika, coarse salt, cayenne pepper, mixed greens, crusty rolls, pears.

WEDNESDAY (Kids) -- Here come the kids for upside-down pizza (see recipe). Serve with carrot sticks.

They'll love rice pudding for dessert: Add milk, raisins, a little sugar and a dash of pure vanilla extract to cooked rice. Simmer until thickened. Drizzle with a little honey.

SHOPPING LIST: pizza toppings (such as sliced mushrooms, bell peppers, other sliced vegetables), lean ground beef and ground turkey breast, onion, tomato sauce, garlic powder, Italian-style spaghetti sauce mix, shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, refrigerated pizza crust, carrots, milk, raisins, sugar, pure vanilla extract, rice, honey.

THURSDAY (Meatless) -- Skip meat tonight and enjoy pasta with tomaotes and arugula. Cook 8 ounces pasta shells according to directions. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs; cook 5 minutes or until toasted, stirring often. Remove to a small bowl; stir in 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese. In same skillet, heat 2 more tablespoons oil on medium. Add 2 cups grape tomatoes and 2 teaspoons minced garlic; cook until the tomatoes start to burst. Add 1 (5-ounce) package fresh arugula, coarse salt and pepper to taste. Cook 1 minute until arugula begins to wilt. Toss with hot pasta; sprinkle each serving with breadcrumbs.

Serve with a spinach salad with hard-boiled egg slices and whole-grain rolls. Dessert is chocolate ice cream drizzled with strawberry sauce.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough strawberry sauce for Saturday.

SHOPPING LIST: pasta shells, olive oil, plain breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, grape tomatoes, garlic, packaged arugula, coarse salt, pepper, spinach, eggs, whole-grain rolls, chocolate ice cream, strawberry sauce.

FRIDAY (Express) -- Chicken with orzo is a fast meal. In a medium bowl, combine ½ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise and 1 (0.87-ounce) packet onion gravy mix. Lay 6 chicken breast cutlets (about 1½ pounds) on wax paper; coat one side of each cutlet with mayonnaise mixture. Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick skillet on medium. Place chicken in skillet, coated side down. Spread remaining mixture on chicken. Cook cutlets 1 minute on each side or until chicken begins to brown. Stir in 1½ cups water, 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles and 8 ounces orzo; blend well. Cover and cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally or until most of the liquid is absorbed and orzo is tender.

Serve immediately with a packaged green salad and italian bread. Finish with chunky applesauce.

SHOPPING LIST: reduced-fat mayonnaise, onion gravy mix, chicken breast cutlets, canned diced tomatoes and green chiles, orzo pasta, packaged green salad, Italian bread, chunky applesauce.

SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining) -- Invite guests for your own grilled grouper (or other fish) tonight. Alongside, add boiled red potatoes with parsley and butter.

On the side, add a tomato corn salad: Combine 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro and 1 pint grape tomatoes (halved) with juice of ½ lemon. Add 1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn (thawed), ¼ cup Italian dressing and 1 tablespoon green pepper sauce; toss to coat. Chill 10 minutes and serve.

Add crusty bread. For dessert, spoon leftover strawberry sauce over leftover ice cream and add a dollop of light whipped cream.

SHOPPING LIST: grouper (or other fish), red potatoes, parsley, butter, fresh cilantro, grape tomatoes, lemon, frozen corn, Italian dressing, green pepper sauce, crusty bread, light whipped cream.


The recipes

Pecan-crusted pork tenderloin (Sunday)

Servings: makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes


1 (1½-pound) pork tenderloin

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

½ cup light brown sugar, divided

2 tablespoons less-sodium soy sauce, divided

2 teaspoons minced garlic

½ cup pecan pieces

¼ cup pineapple juice

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Heat oven to 400. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper to taste; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and some minced garlic. Spread mixture over top of pork. Press chopped pecans into brown sugar mixture on pork. Bake, uncovered, 20-25 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat, combine remaining sugar, soy sauce, pineapple juice and mustard. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Slice pork, spoon sauce over top and serve.

Per serving: 272 calories, 24 grams protein, 10 grams fat (33 percent calories from fat), 1.5 grams saturated fat, 22 grams carbohydrate, 61 milligrams cholesterol, 348 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Carb count: 1.5.


Brunswick stew with smoked paprika (Tuesday)

Servings: makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 45 minutes


2 cups cubed Yukon gold potatoes (¾ inch)

2 cups thinly sliced onion

2 cups frozen corn, thawed

1 cup frozen baby lima beans, thawed

½ cup tomato sauce

2 (14-ounce) cans unsalted chicken broth

2 slices bacon, cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces

3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (see note)

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon coarse salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a Dutch oven on medium-high, combine potatoes, onion, corn, lima beans, tomato sauce, broth and bacon; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken, paprika, salt and pepper; simmer 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Note: Use a rotisserie chicken if desired.

Per serving: 320 calories, 28 grams protein, 7 grams fat (21 percent calories from fat), 2.2 grams saturated fat, 34 grams carbohydrate, 66 milligrams cholesterol, 519 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.


Upside-down pizza (Wednesday)

Servings: makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 45 minutes


2 cups pizza toppings (such as sliced mushrooms, bell peppers, other sliced vegetables)

1 pound lean ground beef

1 pound ground turkey breast

1 cup chopped onion

2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 (1.25-ounce) package Italian-style spaghetti sauce mix

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1 (12-ounce) package refrigerated pizza crust

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large nonstick skillet, cook pizza toppings 3-4 minutes on medium-high or until softened. Spoon into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and spread evenly; set aside. Add ground meats and onion to skillet; cook 8-10 minutes or until no longer pink; drain well. Stir in tomato sauce, garlic powder and spaghetti sauce mix. Bring to a boil; simmer 5-6 minutes. Spoon mixture over pizza toppings. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Gently lay crust over top of cheese. Bake 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Slice and serve.

Per serving: 324 calories, 31 grams protein, 10 grams fat (28 percent calories from fat), 3.2 grams saturated fat, 27 grams carbohydrate, 71 milligrams cholesterol, 1,006 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Carb count: 2.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: [email protected]. The Menu Planner is also accessible at