Sage Pork Rolls with Arugula, Apricot & Mustard with Red Peppers
Like the red, white and green of the Italian flag, the pork, peppers and sage of this dish, or the apricot, arugula and mustard of the filling- the number 3 is a lucky one indeed! It is possibly a truth of all good cooking too- you have a main ingredient and have other elements to enhance it- either with sweet and sour, hot and mild- or in very basic cases simply with salt and pepper... but it is always about balance!
This would make a perfect "secondo piatto", to follow a simple pasta dish in a traditional Italian dinner. And in fact, the flavors and ingredients themselves are traditional themselves- I have just tried to interpret them in a more modern and contemporary way... I hope you all approve!
I began by making the filling for the involtini, which was a very simple affair. I finely chopped arugula... about a coffee cupful in this case, to which I added a tablespoon of mustard. I stirred it together and although it didn't seem like it could, it DID all bind together nicely with a little persistence. I then added a couple of finely chopped dried apricots and mixed them in well too... along with a little salt and pepper, a tiny squeeze of lemon and a little bit of olive oil... finito! I now had a tasty filling for my pork tenderloin slices!
I patted about a teaspoon of the filling onto the middle of each tenderloin slice and rolled it tightly. The pork was so soft and tender that it stayed in shape all by itself. Obviously if you try this and it does not stay closed, you can use a kitchen garn, toothpick or clip to keep the rolls shut... I guess this evening, I was really lucky to have such tender meat!
Fortunately, the sage leaves I picked up at the Frankfurt Market Hall yesterday were so lovely and big, that they wrapped most of the way around the rolls- if yours are smaller and don't- again, use some kitchen garn, it can easily be removed later.
I placed the ends of the rolls carefully onto a hot non-stick pan, to melt the fat on the outside edges, brown them a little- and subsequently, to give me enough fat in the frying pan to finish off the rest of the cooking. Next, I laid the rolls into the pan carefully, making sure that the open end of the roll was faced down and seared and browned first- thus sealing the rolls, so that they could be rolled over and browned from all sides.
Once they were browned from all sides, I seasoned them with salt and pepper, added a squeeze of lemon juice, a drop of honey, a splash of Sambuca and a splash of water. On went the lid, and on went the fun... next stop- red peppers!
All I needed to do was to dice the red pepper and to sauté it lightly in a little olive oil, with a hint of garlic, salt, pepper and sugar. Once it began to brown, I added some paprika powder, a little tabasco and the tiniest bit of tomato paste, then added enough water to cover everything, stirred it all up well and then allowed the diced peppers to simmer away until the juices had reduced down and he peppers were cooked but still firm and juicy.
I served up the rolls with a scattering of peppers and their juices and enjoyed them so much I really will have to make this again! You may want to have them as a main meal with a side of potato, noodle or rice rather than a second course after pasta... but whichever way you make them, they are going to be full of flavor and a crowd pleaser every time! Enjoy!