Whole 30 Weeknight Dinner Challenge
This week a new special guest accompanied Joella and myself in the kitchen. Sara values healthy living, being active, and eating clean food. I thought it was fitting for us to review the Whole 30 cookbook, a book that was lent to me by my friend over atChef Sous Chef.
We tested out 4 recipes from the book: braised pork chops with apple sauce, chimichurri, cauliflower puree, and roasted sweet potatoes. The test was to see if this was a meal that could easily be made on a weeknight using ingredients already available in my fridge and pantry. The challenge was that there was one ingredient missing from each recipe. The guest chefs had no idea what they were cooking ahead of time and I told them about the surprise missing ingredients as they read through the recipes.
Joella poured the Beaujolais and and I put Gallant on Spotify and we were ready to go!
First up, roasted sweet potatoes
It goes without saying that this recipe was extremely easy and any person who is or is not skilled in the kitchen can make it. You literally just wrap up sweet potatoes with some oil, put them in the oven, and forget about them for an hour. How easy is that? Definitely a side dish you can add to any weeknight meal. The challenge was to make them without aluminum foil so Sara cleverly wrapped them up in parchment paper instead, twisting off the ends to seal in the steam while they baked.
The other simple side we made was the cauliflower puree. The challenge; we didn’t have any chicken stock. Sara used more coconut milk to make up for the lack of stock and added extra salt to amp up the flavor. The texture of the dish was cloud-like and smooth, almost like soup. We felt it could have had a richer flavor and we all agreed we would have roasted it before blending. So not disappointing and not amazing, just a good simple side dish.
Next, the braised pork chops with apple sauce
This dish had a few phases of preparation.
Joella seared the pork chops while Sara prepped the apples and onion for the sauce. Once the pork chops were brown and crispy on each side Jo transferred them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put them in the oven to cook through the centre. The apples were then added to the frying pan along with spices and orange juice (in place of cider, the missing ingredient).
The apple sauce was so rich and flavorful and the pork was tender inside with a caramelized crust. We presented the pork on a bed of watercress since it’s the new superfood on the rise and adds a spicy fresh taste to the dish as well as a pop of color.
Finally we whipped up a quick chimichurri
I thought we should add a sauce to the menu to drizzle over the potatoes and cauliflower and I’m so glad we did. It was light and fresh and oozed a delicious aroma. We all loved it! If you’re not familiar with chimichurri, it’s a Mexican sauce made from olive oil, lime juice, herbs, and vinegar. It’s tangy and green, a great pop of flavor.
Pro tip: when your cut flowers start to wilt just snip the buds and flowers off and use as real “confetti”. My daisies lasted 3 days on the table after snipping off the musty stems
The meal only took about an hour and a half to actually cook, including time for photos, setup, and presentation. So really you could make it way faster if you didn’t have me hovering around in the background adjusting hair and re-jigging the lighting.I loved that the only allergy-related adjustments I had to make to the recipes were to use olive oil as a substitute for ghee on a couple occassions.
Jo’s pro tip: if you don’t own an apron just tie the corners of a tea towel around your neck and secure with an elastic band. Protect your clothes from oil splatters!
Unintimidating presentation and concepts 10/10
Desire to eat everything in the book 9/10
Availability of ingredients 10/10
Healthy ingredients 10/10
Fast enough to make on a weeknight 9/10
Likelihood that the 3 of us will recreate this meal on a weeknight 10/10
The Whole 30 Cookbook is available here and costs $34, hardcover POB format. It released April 21, 2015.