Desperation Salad

Ever get home from vacation and you don’t have the energy to food shop, or get yourself together to go out to eat, or even get take-out? Seems laughable, but we had recently dined at restaurants for six nights in a row during a mini vacation, and were looking forward to hunkering down at home, so we had to get creative with what was on hand. Time to raid the fridge…


I remembered we had a single pork tenderloin in the freezer (which I could thaw quickly), some bibb lettuce still in good standing, and few other veggies that could be thrown together. But I also wanted to kick it up a notch and one easy way to accomplish that is to caramelize an onion; plus add a smattering of blue cheese crumbles, which is about all we had left anyway.


So with that idea formulating, I sliced the onion and caramelized it in a pan over low heat for about an hour. Although this step takes a while, there’s not much you have to do after cutting it other than to stir the onions once in a while. (Substitute a thinly sliced raw red onion if you’re too lazy to caramelize one.) While the onion was making it’s own magic, I sliced one carrot, halved some grape tomatoes, and chopped 6 dried apricots—always a nice complement to pork.


Use a rub of your choosing on the tenderloin (Adobo Secco is a good choice) and heat the grill to around 450 degrees. Clean the grates, oil them down then throw on the meat. We swear by the 7-6-5 method (see below), giving us a nice light pink juicy inside. And it’s not even necessary to tent the meat with foil for any length of time afterwards.

Assemble each plate starting with torn bibb lettuce leaves, tomatoes, radishes and apricots. Once the meat is sliced, add to each plate then top with the caramelized onions, blue cheese crumbles and your choice of dressing—we used a homemade vinaigrette.


Of course desperate measures call for a little ingenuity, so use whatever you have on hand to assemble your “Desperation Salad.” I think of it as the dinner cousin to the Clean-Out-the-Fridge-Frittata.

This recipe makes two large salads or four smaller ones.


  • 1 small pork tenderloin, with rub of choice
  • 8 cups bibb lettuce, cleaned and torn
  • 1 caramelized onion (or thinly sliced raw red onion)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut to 1/8″ slices on a diagonal
  • 8 large grape tomatoes, halved
  • 6 dried apricots, sliced in 1/8″ strips
  • 2 large radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup loose blue cheese crumbles
  • Salad dressing of choice

Directions for 7-6-5 Method

  1. Preheat grill for about 10-15 minutes until around 450 degrees. Lift lid, clean grates of any debris, then oil them.
  2. Lay the tenderloin across the grate to get good grill marks, close the lid and set timer for 7 minutes.
  3. Once the 7 minutes are up, lift lid and turn the tenderloin over, close lid and set timer for 6 minutes.
  4. This time open the lid, turn off all burners and prop the meat on it’s side between two grates. Close lid and set timer for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the meat to a cutting board and wait a minute or two if desired. Slice meat into 1/4″ slices on the diagonal. Place them on top of prepared salads.

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