Justine says: “So many of my mother’s recipes were preceded by this exotic word: “Italian”. In trawling through her recipe books, I see it applied to rice, to salads, and to casseroles: pretty much anything that contained parsley, basil, tomato sauce or olives was deemed “Italian”. Of course, the authenticity of these dishes is to be debated, and here, I am following in my mother’s footsteps. This contains harissa paste: not very Italian, I know, but I couldn’t help myself. It is a pretty retro style dish, so bestowing on it one of my mother’s favourite transformative terms seemed applicable.
I use pork fillet a lot in my cooking: quick and easy to sauté, and it embraces so many different flavours. When I can, I buy it from a butcher, however most of the time, it is a freezer staple for me to turn to quickly in times of culinary need.
Please be sure to brown the pork well first, before making the tomato sauce (obviously in the same pan as the one you browned the pork in: the pan will retain so much of the browning bits and flavour).
Serve with mashed potato, or polenta, or indeed rice.”
Italian Pork & Olives
300g pork fillet, sliced
1 tbsp harissa paste
1 tbsp olive oil (and a bit extra, in case)
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
1 large white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and microplaned
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 a bag baby spinach
1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup black olives
1/2 tsp Maldon Salt
Good grinding black pepper
Small handful basil, chopped
Small handful parsley, chopped
1 anchovy fillet, rinsed and drained
Zest and juice of 1/3 of a lemon
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
More fresh basil and parsley, finely chopped
Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan, and add the harissa paste and pork. Brown well on both sides: this should take a total of 5 minutes on a relatively high heat. Remove the pork with tongs, and set the pork aside.
Using the same pan, add the onion, celery, garlic and carrot, and a little more olive oil if you think necessary. Sauté this for a good ten minutes: please ensure this is done properly, as you want the mix well softened. Turn the heat up quite high after the ten minutes, and add the tinned tomatoes, olives, anchovy fillet and tomato paste and sugar. Allow to bubble furiously for at least a minute, as you keep stirring. Turn the heat down after a minute, add the pork back to the pan, along with the herbs and seasoning, and simmer for an hour, on a low heat. Keep stirring every now and then to ensure it doesn’t stick to the pan. Half way through the cooking though, stir through the spinach leaves.
Just before serving add the lemon zest and juice, taste again for seasoning and adjust if necessary, and serve sprinkled with Parmesan.
Michael’s wine recommendation – CLICK HERE
I live on Salisbury Plain, England, in a very old, wonky thatched cottage that looks like it’s been iced with royal icing and topped with Shredded Wheat. I grew up in South Africa, but have lived in England for 18 years.
I run my design business, Hector and Haddock, from my studio at home where I design linocuts, screen prints, tea towels and greeting cards. A complete bibliophile and self confessed hoarder, all of my designs and work pay homage to vintage graphics and paper. I also use this extensive paper ephemera collection to create bespoke paper pictures for clients.
More than anything, I love to cook for people. I hope that you find these recipes helpful, inspiring and delicious, even if you don’t follow a gluten free diet. There’s more on the inspiration in my blog in The Plain Kitchen.