Cheap Pork and Turnip Greens

Coupon clipping is beginning to take a toll on me. This morning, I rushed off to CVS to get the Puffs Plus Tissue with Lotion on sale for 97 cents a box before Durham was buried in 2 inches of snow. Even worse, I found myself saying things like this to the clerk: “Your flyer says this item was $2.99, so why is the price $3.99 here?” Or, “Don’t I get this free if I buy 2 items at the regular price?” The clerk glowered as she scanned my coupons, making it clear that she wanted to shove them somewhere besides the cash register. But I didn’t care. I saved $30.

But I worry that my newly discovered frugality may affect my cooking. Being a selective cheater when it comes to making things from scratch, I follow a set of inner rules that only a tax attorney could sort out. Yes to Brummel and Brown, Hamburger Helper, and pre-packaged sushi. No to canned soup, spaghetti sauce, and anything made by Swanson except chicken pot pie. No to canned biscuits (well, most of the time).

Now, the coupon world is ALL ABOUT pre-packaged foods. Coupons are the manufacturers’ way to lure us into trying their latest product, from frozen Texas toast to banana-flavored Cheerios (I am, unfortunately, not joking). You can’t find coupons for organic radishes, or prosciutto, or local butter. So I’m straining a bit, trying not to lower my standards and buy frozen pizza sticks just because they’re 99 cents a box.

The good news is that seasonal ingredients do tend to be cheaper. So here’s a wonderful recipe for a dish we had just the other night, made of items purchased at a decent sale price, with not a single canned good involved.

Pork Tenderloin, Turnip Greens, and Mushrooms over Pasta

Serves 2

1/2 lb. long thin pasta (spaghetti or spaghettini, linguini, etc.)
1 large onion, halved and sliced thin
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp. (or more) olive oil for sauteeing
1/2 pork tenderloin, fresh or leftover (about 4 – 6 oz.), sliced lenthwise, then into thin strips about 1″ wide
12 – 16 leaves turnip greens, cleaned, ends trimmed, sliced into thin strips
To slice, lay about 6 leaves on top of each other, roll up tightly, then slice at 1/4″ intervals
4 -6 mushrooms, halved and sliced thin
1 tsp. crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

Put water for pasta on to boil and prepare according to package directions. Heat olive oil in skillet on medium high heat. Add onions and saute until translucent. (Add water or more olive oil if they begin to brown.) Add garlic to skillet and stir. If using fresh tenderloin: Add pork and cook until just tender and lightly browned, then add remaining ingredients except cheese. Cook until mushrooms and turnip greens are tender. If using leftover tenderloin: Add remaining ingredients except cheese and cook until mushrooms and turnip greens are tender. Serve over pasta and garnish with cheese.

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