Have you ever opened the refrigerator one or two hours before dinner and had no idea what to make? This is a common occurrence for anyone, no matter if you are single or have a family. Dinner happens every day and sometimes it can be hard to keep things creative. That is why sheet pan dinners are one of the most searched-for meals.
What can go together on one pan and create a meal? And on top of that, what can be filling enough to constitute an entire meal? Sometimes we’re craving a real meal with sides and a main dish.
Pork tenderloin is often my go-to one-pan recipe and this meal has become a new favorite. Spices paired with roasted vegetables create perfect flavors that satisfy and truly fill you up!
What is pork tenderloin?
Pork tenderloin is a long, narrow piece of meat that runs along the backbone of a pig. The tenderloin is always boneless and lean. In fact, it’s actually categorized as extra lean by the USDA. In comparison, a whole pork loin is much larger and can be both boneless and bone-in.
The reason I gravitate to a pork tenderloin as an all-purpose cut that works in so many recipes is how quickly it can cook while remaining juicy. Plus, since pork is not strong-flavored, it accepts spices and other flavors extremely well, making it the perfect meat to use for rubs. A tenderloin is often under two pounds and can have a good amount of rub sprinkled on the exterior.
How do I cook pork tenderloin?
I start with a rub of dry spices. Dry spices and herbs have a lot of flavors packed into the essential oil. Once the rub is applied, a quick sear in hot oil is necessary. Searing may not be for the reason you think. Searing does not lock in juices, but instead browns and caramelizes the sugars and browns the proteins in the meat. This caramelizing creates flavor and a delicious crust that wouldn’t be achieved if the tenderloin was placed directly into the oven. Since the tenderloin has a petite size, it translates to a quick cooking time, which means it does not need as much time in the oven as the vegetables.
The searing is the only reason this is not fully a one-pan dinner, but it’s well worth the extra step!
How do I make this a meal?
Any vegetable in roasted form turns into something magical. During roasting at high heat, the sugar in vegetables caramelizes and creates a sweet, savory flavor. And the roasting of fennel and carrots truly makes this a meal.
Fennel bulb is the unsung hero in the kitchen. Raw, it can be tough. But cut into thick wedges and roasted, the flavor it gains along with the tender texture from the roasting is perfect. To marry all the flavors, the same rub used on the tenderloin is sprinkled on the vegetables.
Once finished, this meal becomes just as delicious as any special occasion meal, but with one important difference: this can all be done in one hour!
Watch how to make this pork tenderloin recipe:
Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables
For the spice rub
- 2 tsp fennel seed, toasted and crushed
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp coriander
- 2 tsp salt
- ¾ tsp black pepper
For the main dish
- 1 ½ lbs carrots, cleaned and sliced into sticks
- 2 bulbs fennel, trimmed and cut into six wedges each
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- 4 tbsp olive oil, separated
- 1 lb pork tenderloin
For the sauce
- 1 tbsp champagne vinegar
- ¾ cup apricot jam
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Toast the fennel seed over low heat, approximately 1 minute. Once toasted, crush the fennel seed in a pestle. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients of the spice mixture and set aside.
- Place the prepared carrots and fennel on a large sheet pan (or roasting pan). Spread to an even layer and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with 2 tsp of spice mixture and place in oven to roast.
- Rub the remaining spice mixture on the pork tenderloin. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat and sear tenderloin on all sides until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.
- Once fully seared, add the tenderloin to the sheet pan with the vegetables and roast until the meat registers 145°F and the vegetables have a golden-brown crust.
- While the meat is roasting, prepare the sauce. Heat the skillet used to brown the meat to medium-low heat. Add the vinegar and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, 1 minute. Add the mustard and jam and stir until the sauce bubbles throughout, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Serve with the pork and vegetables.