Dressing up extra-lean pork

This recipe for spinach- and basil-stuffed pork tenderloin rolls up fresh spinach and basil and pairs it with canned tomatoes for ease of preparation. 

Tammy Ljungblad/Kansas City Star

Pork tenderloin is as lean as skinless chicken breast — and sometimes just as bland. The trick is to gussy it up.

This recipe for spinach- and basil-stuffed pork tenderloin rolls up fresh spinach and basil and pairs it with canned tomatoes for ease of preparation. When tomatoes are in season, feel free to substitute 2 cups chopped, fresh, ripe tomatoes.

The sliced pinwheel design, called a roulade, is a showstopper every time, and it’s tasty, too.

Accompaniments: If desired, add 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms to the tomato mixture. Saute onion, as directed, then add mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, 5 to 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender and liquid has evaporated. Add garlic and proceed as recipe directs.


  • Makes: 6 servings
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • ¼ cup basil leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, divided
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced no-salt-added tomatoes, with liquid
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pat the pork tenderloin dry. Using a sharp knife, slice the pork tenderloin lengthwise, cutting close (to within about ½ inch of edge) but not through one long side to butterfly.

Spread the pork tenderloin out flat on work surface. Cover with plastic wrap and pound until the pork tenderloin is about ½- to ¾-inch thick and is a rectangle that measures about 6½ by 10 inches.

Place spinach leaves, basil leaves, 2 cloves garlic and Parmesan cheese in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until very finely chopped.

Brush the top surface of the pork tenderloin lightly with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Spread the spinach-basil mixture evenly over the pork.

Starting with the long side, roll the tenderloin, encasing the filling inside as you roll. Tie the tenderloin in 2 or 3 places with kitchen twine to hold the roll securely. Brush outside of the tenderloin with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Place in an 11- by 7-inch baking dish. Roast uncovered 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes or until the onion is tender. Mince the remaining 2 cloves garlic and add to the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, vinegar, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, 5 minutes.

Spoon tomato mixture over pork. Continue to bake, uncovered, 5 to 10 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted into the center registers 155 degrees for medium doneness and meat that is light pink inside.

Allow to stand, covered, 5 minutes. Slice pork crosswise into medallions about 1-inch thick. Spoon tomato mixture over pork.

Per serving: 129 calories (35 percent from fat), 5 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 50 milligrams cholesterol, 4 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams protein, 102 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

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