Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin topped with a sprinkling of toasted pepita seeds is a mouthwatering, healthy meal that can be on your kitchen table in less than an hour. There is no fancy cooking, just rub the pork with the spice mixture, pan sear quickly and finish in the oven. The lean and tender pork cooks quickly and can stand up to the bold flavors of the sweet and slightly spicy rub.
Crunchy toasted pepitas add texture, flavor and nutritional goodness to the meal. Pepitas, which are shell less small green seeds, come from a specific pumpkin variety, known as Styrian (Austrian) or Oil Seed thin skin pumpkins and are loaded with health benefits. If your local grocer doesn’t carry the green pumpkin seeds, look for them at health food or Mexican markets.
Of course, you can use a pre made spice rub for this recipe but they can be expensive and loaded with salt and preservatives. It only takes a few minutes to make your own homemade blend that has a mixture of sweet, spicy, hot and salty tastes as I did, using ingredients found in your own spice cabinet.
I served the succulent pork tenderloin with simple mashed sweet potatoes and sautéed tart Granny Smith apples. The pork tenderloin would also be great served with rice and a cool, refreshing tomato and cucumber salad in the summer.
Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin With Toasted Pepitas
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- 1 – 1 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed of all silverskin
- 2 Tbsp. peanut or canola oil, divided
- spice rub (recipe below)
- toasted pepita seeds, for garnish*
Rub the pork tenderloin with 1 Tbsp. oil then cover with the spice rub and pat so the coating adheres. Let the meat marinate for 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate for several hours.
Heat the remaining oil in an ovenproof sauté pan over medium high heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the pork and sear on all sides (about 1 to 2 minutes each side). Transfer to the preheated oven and roast until the pork registers 145 degrees (about 10 – 15 minutes, depending on the size of the meat). Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes (the temperature will continue to rise) so the juices redistribute into the meat before slicing. Garnish with toasted pepita seeds, if using, and serve.
Dry Rub For Pork
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. allspice
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. chipotle chili
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
Whisk all ingredients together, taste a pinch of the mix and adjust spices, if necessary, then set aside. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled and stored in an airtight container to use at another time.
Toasted Pepita Seeds – Green Pumpkin Seeds
- 1/4 c. green pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp. cumin
- a pinch of cayenne (optional)
Heat the oil in a small sauté pan then add the pepitas. Cook, tossing until they turn golden. (Watch carefully so that they don’t burn). Remove from the heat and sprinkle with salt, cumin and cayenne, if using. Let cool on a plate until needed.
*If you would like to make a cup or more of toasted pepitas, you can roast them in the oven. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Toss the green pumpkin seeds with a little olive oil on a large baking sheet large. Spread out in an even layer and roast the seeds on the middle rack of the oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and immediately toss the seeds with salt, cumin, and cayenne, if using. Let cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container.
This recipe is very flexible so if you can’t find a pork tenderloin, a pork loin roast or chops would also be delicious prepared with the spice rub, just adjust the cooking times appropriately. If you decide to prepare this recipe, you will be creating a healthy meal as it is very low in fat…as we all know, pork is the other white meat. Sides such as the sweet potatoes and apples add to the meal’s overall nutritional value.