Roasted Pork Loin: An Intimate Valentine’s Day Dinner for Two

Planning a romantic Valentine’s Day evening can be tricky with two little ones. We tried to remember the other night if our babysitter had a boyfriend she might be spending the evening with. Would it be rude to ask her right before the holiday to sit with the kids? Then there is the issue of making dinner reservations far enough in advance and of course, the cost of dinner. Believe me, it’s a holiday we would definitely consider splurging on. With a seven- and four-year-old, we’re realizing how important it is to grasp every moment we can to embrace our time as a couple!

However, this year I think we’ve decided to have a romantic dinner at home after the kids have gone to bed (always the best time for the possibility for at least a little romance!). And I have the perfect dish in mind–a one-pot roasted pork loin with apples and veggies and a honey, horseradish and balsamic sauce.
Preparing a pork loin that is juicy and tender has only been a recent achievement for me. I don’t know why, but pork loin intimidated me and I think it was because I didn’t have a solid method for cooking it. Now, I have a tried-and-true method that is so good!
First, I usually skip the regular grocery store brands and go for the pork loins from Trader Joe’s. They’re a little smaller and a less intimidating in my opinion. Each one is a about a pound and easily feeds two people. This is my new fool-proof recipe for roasted pork loin with apples and veggies. It makes a great no-fuss Valentine’s Day dinner or a satisfying comfort meal any time of year:
-1-pound pork loin (a little over a pound will still work)
-2 tart red apples, quartered
-2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
-1/2 yellow onion cut into big chunks
-10 baby carrots
-1 green zucchini, diced
-1 stalk of celery, cut into bite-sized pieces (optional)
-Two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-1 tablespoon horseradish
-1 1/2 tablespoons honey
-1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-Seasoned salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
First, you will need a skillet or dutch oven with a lid that can be transferred from the stove top to the oven. I like to use my stainless steel pan because it’s great for achieving some great browning of the meat.
Next, cut all of your veggies before starting to cook the meat, place into a big bowl, toss with one tablespoon olive oil and season with half of the garlic powder, seasoned salt and pepper.
When all of your ingredients are ready, season the pork loin with one tablespoon of the garlic powder and a generous amount of seasoned salt and pepper on all sides. Then heat your skillet to medium high with one tablespoon of olive oil and add the pork when the pan is sizzling hot. Sear the meat until browned on all sides. After the meat is caramelized on all sides, add the veggies around the pork in the pan and lightly toss.
Transfer the whole skillet without a lid to a preheated oven onto the middle rack. Cooking time will be about 35 to 40 minutes if you would like to set a timer. When there is 15 minutes of cooking time remaining, add a lid to the skillet. Remove skillet from oven with oven mitts when cooking time is finished and it should look about like this!
Transfer the pork to a serving plate and cover with foil. Be careful when touching the lid, it’s HOT! Transfer the veggies to a serving bowl with a slotted spoon and cover with foil, leaving the remaining juices in the pan.
Heat the juices on the stove top over medium heat. Add the horseradish, honey and balsamic vinegar to the pan and stir with a whisk. Allow sauce to thicken and turn off the heat. Then, slice the pork loin into two inch medallions and arrange the apples and veggies nicely around the meat on the plate. Drizzle sauce over the top of the meat. Bring the plate to the table and enjoy this healthy, lean, comforting meal at a hopefully quiet and romantically-set table. And oh, don’t forget the red wine!