- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When peaches appear in our summer markets, most of us think immediately of using them in luscious desserts such as pies, tarts, shortcakes or homemade ice creams.

The truth is, however, that this fruit is just as tempting in savory creations. A fresh peach salsa paired with sauteed pork tenderloins is a good example.

For the salsa, peeled, diced peaches are combined with chopped red onion and garlic. Lime juice and zest, along with minced jalapenos, provide tart and hot notes respectively, while minced cilantro adds an extra layer of flavor.

This vibrantly hued and seasoned salsa looks glorious spooned atop pan-seared slices of pork seasoned with cumin, coarse salt and pepper.

Couscous tossed with butter plus blanched haricots verts made ideal sides to this entree at a recent dinner party at our house. Our guests loved the peach salsa, asked for seconds and then requested the recipe.

Pork tenderloins with fresh peach salsa

Makes 4 servings.

SALSA:

3 yellow peaches, ripe but not too soft

1/3 cup chopped red onion

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, plus more if needed

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper, seeds and membranes removed

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro plus sprigs for garnish

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

PORK TENDERLOINS:

2 pork tenderloins, 14 to 16 ounces each, trimmed of excess fat

2 teaspoons ground cumin

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Olive oil for sauteing

For salsa, peel peaches (see note), halve lengthwise, and pit. Cut into cubes 1/2 inch or smaller. You should get a generous cup. Place in a medium nonreactive bowl with onion, lime zest and juice, garlic, jalapeno pepper (use more for a hotter taste), cilantro, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper.

Taste, and if desired, add additional salt and black pepper and up to 1 teaspoon more lime juice for a sharper taste. Marinate salsa for 30 minutes. (Salsa can be prepared 2 hours ahead; leave at cool room temperature.)

For pork, cut each tenderloin on the diagonal into 1-inch-thick slices. (Tenderloins gradually taper into a thin tail; cut off tails and save for another use, such as a stir fry.) You should get 5 to 6 1-inch slices from each tenderloin. In a small bowl, mix together cumin and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Rub some of this mixture on each side of each slice.

Place a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan well and, when hot, add enough slices to fit comfortably in a single layer. Cook until browned well on both sides and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. (Internal temperature should be 150 degrees.) Remove and cover very loosely with foil. Continue until all pork has been cooked. Let meat rest 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, arrange 2 pork slices on a dinner plate and spoon some salsa on top. Garnish with a cilantro sprig. Pass any extra salsa and pork separately.

Note: To peel peaches, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add peaches for 60 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain. When cool enough to handle, peel skins off with a sharp paring knife.

Betty Rosbottom is a cooking school director and author of “Sunday Soup” (Chronicle Books).

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