Pork tenderloin with tonnato dressing and panzanella

Panzanella salad meets vitello tonnato - but make it pork.
Panzanella salad meets vitello tonnato - but make it pork. Photo: William Meppem
Dietary
Dairy-free

Tonnato, a tuna and creamy, caper-spiked dressing, is an Italian creation. Typically served with veal, it makes for an elegant starter known as "vitello tonnato" – surf and turf at its finest. Here, I'm using lean pork tenderloin (easier to find) which is crusted with fresh herbs. The dressing is great on vegies, too. In fact, you'll want to put it on everything!

Ingredients

For the pork

350g pork tenderloin

1 tsp olive oil, plus 1 tbsp for frying

salt flakes and black pepper

1 tbsp oregano, chopped

½ tbsp rosemary, chopped

1 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp fennel seeds

For the tonnato dressing

95g tin tuna packed in olive oil, drained

1 tbsp salted capers, rinsed

3 good-quality anchovy fillets

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp flaked salt (½ tsp fine salt)

1 egg

150ml grapeseed oil

For the salad

175g green beans, trimmed

70g crustless sourdough

200g cherry truss tomatoes, halved and stems removed

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp capers, rinsed

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for tossing the bread

10g fresh basil leaves, torn

salt flakes

Method

1. Wipe the pork with a clean paper towel. Using a pairing knife, remove the white sinew known as the "silverskin" by inserting the tip of the knife just underneath and cutting it off. Cut the tenderloin in half, so it will fit in the pan. Drizzle the meat with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and black pepper. Set the pork aside.

2. Place oregano, rosemary, lemon zest and fennel seeds on a chopping board and chop roughly. Roll tenderloin pieces over, pressing to make the herbs stick. Set aside for at least 15 minutes to allow pork to come to room temperature.

3. For the dressing, combine all ingredients, except the grapeseed oil, in a blender. With the blender on low, drizzle in the oil. Speed up as the mixture thickens and emulsifies. The sauce should be punchy and full of umami; add salt and lemon juice if required. Put it in the fridge until ready to serve.

4. Set a wide skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan to coat. When hot, add the pork pieces and cook for 3 minutes a side (let's say it has 3 sides) for medium, blushing pink pork. Remove from the heat and cool before placing in the fridge.

5. For the salad, bring a saucepan full of well-salted water to the boil. Drop in the beans and cook for 3-4 minutes so they still have crunch. Drain and immediately chill in the fridge.

6. Place a small sautee pan over medium heat. Tear the sourdough into small pieces and toss with a good glug of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Fry until golden and crunchy, but soft in the middle. Remove the bread and set aside.

7. Thinly slice the cold pork and lay slices on a platter in concentric circles. In a bowl, place the tomatoes, vinegar, lemon juice, capers, olive oil, basil and a pinch of salt, then toss. Add the beans and bread and combine.

8. Spoon about half of the tonnato dressing into the centre of the platter, then tip the salad onto the dressing. Give everything one last sprinkle of flaky salt and then serve at room temperature. You can serve the extra dressing on the side.