• 2 tbsp pesto
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 1/2 tsp chili flakes
• 4 boneless pork loin chops
• 16 spears of asparagus (about 1/2lb)
• 3/4 tsp salt, divided
• Freshly cracked pepper
• 1 onion, thinly sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 796mL can diced tomatoes
• 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
• 1 tsp Italian seasoning
• 1 tsp sugar

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk pesto with 1 tbsp of olive oil, lemon zest and chili flakes. Set aside.
  3. On the long side of the pork chop (opposite of the fat cap) use a sharp knife to very carefully slice ¾ of the way through the pork chop, so that it opens like a book. Repeat with remaining pork chops. Season with ½ tsp salt and freshly cracked pepper.
  4. Spread pesto evenly on the inside of the pork chops that you have just cut open. On the bottom half of each pork chop, arrange 4 pieces of asparagus and fold the top over.
  5. Fold the top of pork over and secure with a toothpick; I find threading it like a needle through both sides of the pork helps and allows the pork to stay closed and sear properly.
  6. Heat a large oven-proof braiser or saute dish over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp olive oil, followed by pork. Sear pork for 2-3 minutes per side until a golden crust forms; you may need to do this in two batches. Set seared pork aside.
  7. Reduce heat to low and add remaining tablespoon of oil. Add onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add diced tomatoes, and stir to loosen the brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Stir in balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning, sugar and salt. Return pork chops to the pan. Transfer to the oven, and cook, uncovered for 10 minutes or until pork reaches an internal temperature of 155F. Remove toothpicks before serving.