Every summer, I turn fruity.
As in batty for plums, pluots, peaches, nectarines cherries, strawberries, blueberries, figs and the like.
So much so that I practically have to restrain myself from buying a few of everything that I see at the farmers market, lest I end up with a load of fruit at the end of the week, when I am ready to set out to the market again on my regular weekend jaunt.
Just last Saturday, my favorite strawberry vendor asked me pointedly, “Do you really go through this many strawberries every week?” as I bought my usual three baskets from him.
Why, yes, I do. I really, really do.
Hey, it could be worse. At least he didn’t ask, “Do you really go through five buckets of chicken every week?”
Instead, I’m proud to be fruity to the core. Most of my haul is enjoyed as is — out of hand or topped with Greek yogurt or tossed into salads. Some get baked into sweet treats such as galettes, muffins or financiers. And every now and then, some actually end up in something savory.
Like “Peachy Pork or Veal with Pomegranate Molasses and Charred Onion.”
Clark is a New York Times writer and prolific cookbook author, whose recipes never disappoint. In fact, as I leafed through the 220 recipes in the book, I started to bookmark the ones I wanted to try most, until I had marked so many that it would have been easier to pinpoint the ones I didn’t want to make. That’s how tempting all the recipes look and sound.
In this book, Clark asks us to look at dinner through a different lens — to stop thinking of the main meal of the day as just a protein and two sides on a plate. In her hands, it can be so much more, such as a dish of “Thai-Style Shrimp Balls with Napa Cabbage” (think shumai without the fuss of using wrappers), “Asian Grain Bowl with Roasted Shiitakes, Tofu, Brussels Sprouts and Miso Dressing,” and “Smashed White Bean Toasts with Roasted Asparagus and Sumac.”
“Peachy Pork or Veal” is one of those trendy sheet-pan suppers, meaning it all gets cooked on one big pan in the oven, so it’s as simple as it gets. I cover my sheet pan in aluminum foil to make clean up even more effortless.
Take pork or veal chops (I used pork), season with olive oil, and salt and pepper, and bake on high heat with rings of red onion. Remove from the oven, add fresh peach slices (nectarines would work, too), and put the pan under the broiler until everything gets caramelized. Drizzle on pomegranate molasses and chopped fresh basil, and enjoy.
Fruit and pork were made for each other, and who can resist meltingly tender onions that have turned so sweet? The syrupy pomegranate molasses connects everything with a nice perky tang that’s reminiscent of balsamic vinegar but far more interesting.
This is a dish I am definitely making again and again. After all, gotta do something with all those peaches piled on my kitchen counter.
Peachy Pork or Veal with Pomegranate Molasses and Charred Onions
(Serves 2; see NOTE)
2 bone-in pork or veal chops (1 1/2 inches thick)
1 medium red onion, sliced 1/2-inch thick and separated into individual rings
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper, plus more as needed
8 ounces peaches or nectarines (about one large peach or nectarine), pitted and cut into thick wedges
Pomegranate molasses, for serving
Chopped fresh basil, for serving
Heat the oven to 475 degrees.
In a large bowl, toss the chops and onions with the 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper. Arrange the chops and onions on a rimmed baking sheet, keeping the meat on one side and the onions on the other, and leaving space for adding the peaches later. Roast for 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss the peaches with the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil, and sprinkle them with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper.
Turn the oven to broil. Add the peaches to the cleared space on the baking sheet, and broil until everything is lightly charred and the chops are just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. (If your chops are thinner than 1 1/2 inches, pull them from the broiler when they are cooked through, and then return the baking sheet to the broiler to finish the onions and peaches.)
Divide the chops, onions and peaches among individual serving plates, drizzle them with pomegranate molasses to taste, and sprinkle with chopped basil.
Note: If you want to double the recipe, use two sheet pans, and make sure to rotate them so they both have time directly under the broiler.
From “Dinner: Changing the Game” by Melissa Clark
More From Melissa Clark: Sauteed Scallops with Tomatoes and Preserved Lemon