Weeknight Favorites Red Lentil Macaroni Greek Salad & Crispy Pork Tacos

In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.
Mark Twain

What a great new find at Trader Joe’s to put on my keeper list Red Lentil Pasta and along with a great haul of goodies including Greek Feta, peperoncino, the usual great olive oils and vinegars a Greek salad was in our near future.  I had planted the fresh herbs in their window boxes last week so there is plenty of oregano and with the Aero garden in the kitchen the demon mint plant was taking over and sucking up all of the water meant for 7 herb pods, so it was planted in some fresh soil in a planter where it seems to be very happy and can grow into a bush if it wants to.

Sam’s Club and TJ’s have great tomatoes, cherry and grape heirloom blend are favorites around here, perfect for a colorful pasta salad.  I cooked the pasta longer than the package cooking time by at least 2 minutes, rinsed it a bit in cold water, drained it and quickly drizzled olive oil, vinegar, a squeeze of lemon juice over the macaroni, seasoned with salt, pepper, torn leaves of fresh oregano, mint, and finely minced fresh garlic again not really measuring a thing, but you can make a favorite Greek dressing easily enough with all of the seasonings and herbiness of Greek dressing…like it a little creamier just add some plain Greek yogurt.

My favorite add-ins, halved heirloom tomatoes, cubed feta cheese, cucumbers, green pepper strips and a little red onion.  Toss in a few more fresh herbs, toss the salad, chill and serve at your next favorite cookout…

Now for some fabulous tacos from Melissa Clark over at Food 52, crispy pork tacos that call for Sichuan peppercorns, well since we have so many Asian Markets around here I was surprised as was my husband that my favorite one didn’t have them or so they said, hubby said the store was quite busy for a Sunday and whoever he asked was quite rude and snapped at him…so I didn’t have them for the recipe and maybe I’ll take my business elsewhere since I know that I always buy them there.  With that said, I adapted the recipe and used a peppercorn mélange and spiced it up with Japanese pepper, still and all quite tasty and I look forward to making the pork again.

Crispy Pork for Tacos slightly adapted from Food 52

1+1/2 pounds boneless pork butt, trimmed of some of the fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely ground
2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns, coarsely ground (or I substituted peppercorn mélange and 1 teaspoon Japanese pepper)
Pinch of red chile flakes
1 tablespoon peanut oil, grapeseed or safflower oil…I had no problem using olive oil
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, like Maldon
1/2 cup soft herbs, such as cilantro, mint,
1 small jalapeño or other chile, seeded and sliced or chopped
Crispy Romaine lettuce torn or shredded and sliced cucumbers, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving

I seasoned the pork early in the day and refrigerated it until it was time to crank up the cast iron pan to make two batches of the crispy pork.
Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot, add the oil heat to shimmering and add some of the pork (I had two batches) and season with salt.  Sear for a couple of minutes before stirring to sear until crispy and golden all over…serve on a warm platter with a side platter of the lettuce, herbs, limes and warm soft tortillas.

LINK to Food 52:  https://food52.com/blog/19231-a-genius-speed-demon-method-for-crispy-pork-shoulder

~ Favorite product of the week ~
Red Lentil Pasta