The most exciting thing happened last week: I won a recipe contest! The contest was part of the “Feed Virginia Day of Action”, a state-wide initiative by the Governor and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe to bridge the nutritional divide and make local food more affordable to all Virginian’s. To qualify, contestants were required to be members of the Virginia Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and to incorporate an assigned local food/crop into the recipe. I live in the Blue Ridge district and we were assigned yogurt.
**Fun fact: Milk is Virginia’s third largest agricultural commodity.
Now, my creativity definitely ebbs and flows, and it doesn’t manifest itself when I want it to.
Perfect example = this recipe contest started Sept 1. I didn’t come up with a recipe for 3 weeks.
The few rules around the ingredients helped me have a clear vision of what I could create and narrowed down my thoughts.
My idea started with some fresh figs which I wanted to incorporate because they’re growing wild in our front yard. Normally I’m not a “fig person,” but everything’s better with a little butter & sugar, right?
The recipe I created is a yogurt & spinach stuffed pork chop with a balsamic fig reduction. You will want to add this fruity yet tart fig sauce to everything from meats to dessert – I would DEFINITELY try it over a little vanilla ice cream or pound cake.
Spinach Stuffed Pork Chops with Balsamic Fig Sauce
Yields: 4-6 servings
Time: 45 minutes
- 1 10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and drained (use a towel to squeeze out excess water after thawed)
- 1 cup nonfat Greek Yogurt
- ¾ cup crumbled goat cheese
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 4 boneless center-cut pork loin chops
- 1/8 – ¼ tsp
- 1/8 – ¼ tsp pepper
- 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped (or 2 tsp dried rosemary)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
Sauce: (Adapted from the kitchen culinaire)
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 6 fresh figs, stemmed and quartered
- 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine spinach, yogurt, goat cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
- With a paring knife, carefully make a slit in the fatty side of the chops. Work the knife about ¾ of the way through without cutting through it. (This is where you will add the filling, so give enough space for your creamy stuffing).
- Season pork on both sides with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Add about 3 tablespoons of spinach, yogurt and cheese mixture to the inside of each chop. Be sure not to over-stuff!
- Heat olive oil in a medium sized pan. Sear chops for 3 minutes on each side.
- Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Transfer pork chops to the pan and bake for 7-9 minutes. If using a thermometer, ensure the probe is in the meat, not the stuffing and has reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
- To make the sauce, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add figs and allow them to cook for 2 minutes. Remove figs and add vinegar, brown sugar and water to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 4-5 minutes until slightly reduced. Add figs back to the sauce to keep warm.
- Drizzle sauce over pork chops and serve immediately.
- Re-use leftover spinach, yogurt, and cheese stuffing as a dip for raw veggies or pita bread. This is a great appetizer or snack for your lunch box. Just be sure when stuffing the raw meat, you are not cross contaminating.
Thinking of trying it? Let me know how it turns out!