We have all read how it’s easier to make dinner every night if you plan your meals ahead of time. Many home cooks plan their meals for the week and shop for all of the ingredients at the beginning of the week. I have had weeks like that, especially when David and Anna were younger and going to the grocery store included dragging them along. Now that they are older, 14 and 11, I plan my meals a little differently. I may buy chicken breast and a pork tenderloin not knowing exactly how I plan to prepare them. I either have my pantry and refrigerator stocked with ingredients that I consider my “staples” or I purchase those as well. I often plan “what’s for dinner” in the morning and use what I have on hand. Obviously, there is a little planning. I know when I go grocery shopping that I will need to use the meat I purchase in the next couple of days. I rarely freeze meat, but will stop at the store to buy it fresh on the day I need it. This particular dinner came together when I bought a big pork tenderloin and cut off each end grilling the center piece one night and using the meat from the two ends for the next night. I had asparagus, too, because they looked especially good in the grocery store. The rest of the ingredients I always have on hand. This is one of those meals you can customize. Someone in your family despises asparagus? Cut them into bigger pieces so you can avoid them when you are serving your asparagus phobic child (or husband!) Your child doesn’t like asparugus or pork? Serve them pasta with a little of the pan sauce. This is also a great dinner option because it is your protein, vegetable, and grain all in one bowl. You can add a side salad if you have the time; it’s not even necessary, though.
Cut the pork tenderloin into cubes and season generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle flour over all of the pork and toss to coat each piece. Heat a large pan over medium high heat and add olive oil. Cook the pork without crowding the pan so it forms a flavorful, brown crust. When the pork is browned on all sides, remove it from the pan and keep warm. Add 2 or 3 minced garlic cloves to the pan and cook for about 1 minute. Add 1 bunch of asparagus that has been chopped into 1-2 inch pieces. Cook the asparagus for about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan and stir to coat the garlic and asparagus. Add about a tablespoon of flour to the pan and cook for another minute or 2. Add ¾ cup of dry white wine to the pan and scrape all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add 1 cup of chicken stock. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer and return the pork to the pan. Add the zest and juice of 1 lemon while the pork continues to cook. Serve in bowls over hot pasta.