Tara Ballantyne is a prop and food stylist, set designer, content creator, and lover of all things DIY. She is also a globetrotter who first developed her passion for interior and food styling while living in Oslo, Norway.
In her spare time, Tara develops, writes, styles and shoots projects and recipes for her blog; inspired by time spent exploring the garden, tool-shed and kitchen with her family and her twin boys.
Website: www.taraballantyne.com // Instagram: @tara.ballantyne
Twitter: @taraballantyne // Facebook: Tara Ballantyne Interior and Food and Prop Stylist
Here’s a secret I’m going to share… my New Years resolution is to stock my pantry and refrigerator with all the staple ingredients I need to make quick healthy meals that are simple in a pinch, and taste amazing. Sounds super-easy and thought I would already have that covered? Well, I often find that I have too much of one thing, and not enough of the next when planning for meals at work and at home. So I’ve created a master list of pantry ingredients to always have on hand, and a list of standby recipes to match. Streamlined and efficient, and it’s already working wonderfully!
I’ve started with this quick and easy salad filled with fresh ingredients, and its a big hit every single time I make it for my family. This salad is beautiful, bright, and really healthy! The secret to the success of this recipe is two things: ONE: Toast the pearl couscous before cooking. It gives it an incredible flavor and the colour is lovely, and TWO: Slice your pork chop thinly and fan it out on top of your salad before serving. Its a thoughtful presentation that takes only a second, and makes this salad really pretty. I serve it with some sparkling water and a slice of crusty bread.
When it comes to grilling or cooking your pork loin, I use my cast iron pan to get a beautiful golden brown crust on the outside. You could also use leftover chops from the night before, or bake them in the oven. Any way works wonderfully; just make sure that the internal temperature of the meat reaches 160 degrees F.
One more quick thing…lets get back to the couscous… have you used pearl couscous before? I love this as an alternative to the usual, and it has a more ‘pasta-like’ appearance and texture when cooked. It is charming and round, like little pearls, and I think that it makes any salad or dish stand out.
Try this salad for your next pot-luck!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
- 1-6oz (170g) boneless Ontario Pork loin chop, grilled and sliced into
- 1/2-inch (5 cm) segments
- 1 cup (250 mL) pearl couscous
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
- 1 1/4 cups (300 mL) low sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) red onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup (250 mL) grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) kalamata olives, pitted and halved
- 1/4 cup (75 mL) chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) arugula
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) crumbled feta
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) toasted pine nuts
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp (5 mL) Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp (5 mL) garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp (2 mL) fresh ground pepper
- Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add couscous and cook, stirring constantly until toasted, about 4 minutes.
- Stir in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl combine red onion, grape tomatoes, olives, basil leaves, and arugula.
- In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Pour dressing over salad, add cooled couscous, and mix gently to combine.
- Divide onto plates and top each portion with sliced pork, feta cheese and toasted pine nuts.