Roasted Grapes with Pork Tenderloin Cutlets

Jams, pies, sorbets, crisps, and cobblers are all delectable tricks for managing the bounty of the season and we should all continue to employ (and devour) them as often as possible. But in case you’re as smitten with the savory side of fruit as I am, roasting fruit with fresh herbs and olive oil is a useful (and delicious) trick too.

This dish was borne of an excess of juicy, red grapes that I knew weren’t going to be enjoyed before they passed their prime. Waste not, want not (I hate wasting food). I’d never roasted grapes before so it was a bit of an experiment, but given their sweet juiciness, I figured they’d emerge pretty tasty. Indeed they did.

I added rosemary because I was in the mood for rosemary, and I had pork tenderloin planned for dinner, and pork and rosemary together are one of my favorite combinations. Sage would be delicious too, or really any of of your favorite herbs: fresh oregano or thyme in particular are nice with sweet things (and classic with pork). Salt and olive oil get the caramelization process started and dissolve into a dreamy salty-sweet sauce.

I served the sauce over pan-fried pork tenderloin cutlets but if you prefer to grill pork tenderloin (or chops), do that. For a more barbecue sauce effect, you could roast onions alongside the grapes and finish the sauce with a splash of vinegar. I left the onions and vinegar out of the master recipe because I could imagine the grapes spooned over soft cheese, served alongside grilled bread. I’ve eaten them warm on top of the strawberry-rhubarb sorbet I posted last week. And I incorporated the leftover pork and grapes into an absolutely killer warm/cold summer salad (warm pork and grapes atop a bed of cool, crispy greens, spring onions, radishes, and avocado; if you find yourself with leftovers, I highly recommend it).

Employ this same trick with berries, peaches, plums, cherries, rhubarb, or apples! Use a more neutral oil and skip the salt (or use just a pinch), drizzle with honey at the finish, and enjoy as a full-on dessert alone or with ice cream, or for breakfast with yogurt. Endless options, all summery and in my opinion, better than chocolate.

Roasted Grapes with Pork Tenderloin Cutlets

Serves 4

1 pound seedless red grapes
4 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 pork tenderloin, cut into 8 equal pieces (about 1-inch thick)
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add grapes to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the grapes, then sprinkle with rosemary and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir to coat evenly. Spread grapes on baking sheet in an even layer. Roast grapes for 15 minutes, shake pan a bit to shift grapes, then roast for another 15 minutes or until grapes are partially collapsed, very soft, and pan juices are syrupy. Remove from oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Transfer warm grapes and their pan juices to a bowl or jar and reserve until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, using a meat hammer, pound pork tenderloin pieces between sheets of plastic wrap to 1/4-inch thick. Season both sides of cutlets with salt and pepper.

Set a 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of olive and swirl to coat the pan. Fry cutlets, a few at a time, until nicely browned. Flip and fry for 2 minutes more or until just cooked through. Remove to a cutting board to rest as you fry the remaining cutlets (use the remaining olive oil as needed).

Serve cutlets topped with warm roasted grapes. Store leftover sauce in the refrigerator for up to one week.