Spicy cajun pork tenderloin paired with a refreshing spinach salad is an easy weeknight dinner! The warm pork tenderloin with baby spinach, avocado, black beans, red onion and cucumbers goes well with homemade apple cider vinegar vinaigrette dressing.

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Close up of cajun pork tenderloin spinach salad in a wooden bowl

Method

How do you make cajun pork tenderloin? I have tips and tricks on how to make cajun pork tenderloin. Remove the silverskin and season well with kosher salt and cajun seasoning. Pan sear each side in a cast iron pan and finished in the oven until 145F internally. This method keeps the pork tenderloin nice and juicy.

Cut cajun pork tenderloin in a cast iron skillet

How do you make your own salad dressing? Making your own salad dressing is very simple. Start with a medium or large mixing bowl (it’ll be easier to mix) and add the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, dijon mustard and garlic. Mix well until combined. Slowly drizzle in the oil and continue to whisk until creamy and emulsified. Store in a mason jar in the fridge.

Substitutions

What substitutions can you make for this salad? In my opinion, salads recipes are great inspiration. However, I don’t always have all the ingredients listed in a recipe and I don’t always want to go to the store. Or maybe I don’t love an ingredient and want to make a substitution without ruining the recipe. I’ve listed suggestions below but get creative!

  • Cajun Pork Tenderloin: Feel free to use any protein you’d like! Chicken, shrimp or tofu come to mind but another cut of pork or beef would work well too. Cooking time and technique will vary. 
  • Spinach : Use any leafy lettuce you want like arugula, mixed greens or even romaine.
  • Red onion: Not a fan of red onion? Scallions, chives or even leeks would be a great alternative.
  • Avocado: I love avocado but they can be expensive and it can be hard to find the right ripeness. Not a lot can replace avocado but if you’re looking for something of a similar texture try mango! It’ll go well with the spicy pork.
  • Black beans: Any already cooked beans will work. I like chickpeas or cannellini beans but use what’s in your pantry.
  • Corn: You can use fresh corn, frozen corn or canned corn. If corn isn’t your favorite, try sunflower seeds or another vegetable you like.
  • Cucumber: Chopping up broccoli, squash or peppers will give you a crunch in this salad!

Can you make this recipe for meal prep? Yes, absolutely. I’d make one big salad base without the avocado, pork or dressing. Portion it out for up to 4 days in airtight containers and store in the fridge. Next, store the cooked pork tenderloin cut up in an airtight, microwave safe container. This allows you to heat up the pork if you want it warmed up while keeping the salad base cool. I make and store my salad dressing in a mason jar. I cut the avocado fresh each day and add to the salad before eating. 

On a wooden background, a bowl of spinach, ear of corn, half an avocado, quarter of a red onion, cucmeber and flake beans.

Ingredients

What brand of apple cider vinegar do you buy? If I’m buying it from the grocery store, I buy Braggs brand of apple cider vinegar. Luckily, there is a vendor at the farmers market who also makes their own that I also buy.

What are persian cucumbers? Persian cucumbers are small cucumbers about 5 or 6 inches long. These cucumbers have thin skin and are nearly seedless. If you cannot find these specific cucumbers, use an ¼ English cucumber.

Storage

How do you store this salad? If want to make this ahead, I’d store the pork and salad separately in airtight containers. I store them separately so that I can warm up the pork. I’d also store the dressing separately in a mason jar or other airtight container so the salad doesn’t get soggy. 

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Cajun Pork Spinach Salad

Spicy cajun pork tenderloin paired with a refreshing spinach salad is an easy weeknight dinner! The warm pork tenderloin with baby spinach, avocado, black beans, red onion and cucumbers goes well with homemade apple cider vinegar vinaigrette dressing.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time40 mins
Servings: 2 Salads
Author: Samantha

Ingredients

Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing

  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste or 2 cloves finely minced
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Spinach Salad

  • ½ cooked cajun pork tenderloin
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • ½ cup corn kernels frozen or canned will work
  • cup black beans
  • 2 persian cucumbers chopped
  • ¼ red onion diced
  • ½ avocado diced

Instructions

Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing

  • Measure and add apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, dijon mustard and garlic into medium or large mixing bowl. Mix well until combined
  • While you continue to whisk, slowly drizzle in olive oil until creamy and emulsified.
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Spinach Salad

  • Cook and rest cajun pork tenderloin according to these instructions.
  • While the pork is resting, assemble the salad. Start by putting the spinach in 2 medium bowls. Split the topping between both bowls evenly
  • Once the cajun pork tenderloin has rested, cut it up into medallions and top each salad.
  • Lightly drizzle the salad dressing over the 2 bowls and toss lightly with a fork before serving.

Notes

  • Store the salad dressing in the fridge for up to 2 weeks in a small mason jar. 
  • These measurements are rough estimates. Use as much or as little of each ingredient to fit your taste.
  • This recipe makes two full sized dinner salads.
  • If using for meal prep store salad, cajun pork and dressing separately.
  • Total time includes cooking the pork tenderloin. 
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