Pho Pho Pho–Naughty but Nice

New England Pho with pork, sweet potatoes and edamame.

This post is part of the Recipe ReDux Project— the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians, a group I am honored to be in. The Recipe ReDux aims to inspire the food lover in every healthy eater and inspire the healthy eater in every food lover. This month’s theme was putting the pea in potluck–meaning potluck or party dishes with beans or peas in them. This inspired my Christmas memory from last year. Click on the icon at the bottom to see more healthy party posts from my fellow RD’s.

Last year we did something we’ve never done before—ate out on Christmas day. I’ve always heard of folks eating Chinese and going to the movies on Christmas, but I’ve never been one of those people. I have tons of relatives, and have spent most every holiday surrounded by family, pork loin and platters of Christmas cookies. Last year, however, me and the kids found ourselves alone; which meant an opportunity to start a new tradition. Because it was open and we could, we stopped at Miss Saigon, our favorite Vietnamese restaurant after mass. I always thought it would be weird and slightly depressing to eat out on Christmas. But after Christmas Eve with turkey and all the trimmings, friends, and way too much time in the kitchen, a bowl of warm Pho served by someone else sounded too good to pass up. The twinkling lights, kitschy Santa decorations and flat screen TV blaring football in a room full of Vietnamese families was so fun. It felt slightly naughty, but totally nice. It was our secret get-a-way for the day, made all the better with chopsticks and snow falling outside. With fried rice in a doggy bag for later, what could be better?

Here is a recipe for a New England version of Pho. It contains fall ingredients, country ham, maple syrup, pork, and sweet potatoes, all in a chicken broth made colofrul and nutritious with spinach and edamame. There’s nothing quite as comforting or tasty as slurping a big bowl of Pho on a cold day—unless it’s this version studded with American flavors. Instead of beef and Asian noodles, we used a premarinated pork tenderloin, country ham, sweet potatoes and spinach for a decidedly New England taste. We added edamame (fresh soybeans) for a nutritious nod to our Asian neighbors.

2 ounces country ham (or bacon), chopped
1 1/2  pounds hickory smoke or honey mustard marinated pork tenderloin
1/4  cup maple syrup
2  tablespoons country mustard
2  onions, slivered
1  cup edamame
2  small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4  cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3  cups fresh spinach leaves
1/2  pound whole-wheat spaghetti, cooked
3/4  cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese
6  tablespoons chopped green onions
Prep Time – 15
Cook Time – 50

1.    Cook country ham in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Remove. Add pork, maple syrup, and mustard (or marinade) and cook 20 minutes.
2.    Remove pork and shred or chop into bit-sized pieces. Add sliced onion to Dutch oven; sauté 5 minutes. Add pork, edamame, sweet potato and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes. Stir in country ham and spinach, and cook for 1 minute.
3.    Place pasta into 6 large bowls, and top with pork mixture, cheese, and green onions..

Frozen edamame makes this dip merry and bright.

Here, also is a hummus dip of sorts, made with edamame in place of the chickpeas. It’s perfect for the holidays or after.

Edamame Dip with Pita Crisps

2  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1  garlic clove, minced
1/2  teaspoon kosher salt
6  (6-inch) pitas, split in half horizontally and cut into triangles
1 1/2  cups edamame
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/2  teaspoon ground cumin
2  garlic cloves, peeled
1/2  cup parsley leaves
3  tablespoons tahini
3  tablespoons water
3  tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a medium bowl, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, minced garlic and salt. Mix well. Add pita triangles and toss well. Arrange pita triangles in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until crisp. Cool completely on wire rack.
3. Cook edamame according to package instructions, omitting salt. Place remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, salt, cumin, and garlic cloves in a food processor. Pulse 2 to 3 times or until garlic is coarsely chopped. Add edamame, parsley, tahini, water and lemon juice. Process 1 minute or until smooth. Spoon mixture into serving bowl. Serve with pita crisps.


8 thoughts on “Pho Pho Pho–Naughty but Nice

  1. Love, love your story about naughty and nice…I would feel exactly the same way! Also love the Pho recipe…I’m so making it. My family likes Vietnamese food, but will love this version w/ American flavors too. Thanks so much for being one of the first Recipe Reduxers!

  2. Jill, I think this is exactly what we will have on Christmas Day late afternoon after a movie in a real theater…our usual Christmas Day tradition. We have our family dinner on Christmas Eve with presents, a sit-down dinner and cocktails..then our families split up and go do Christmas with their other family “parts”, which is pretty much what families are these days….we are all us, them, their friends and family, exes, steps, extended and isn’t that just wonderful! Happy Holidays to you, Nora, Sam and all your extended families with love.

  3. I have never eaten out on Christmas since that’s when my whole family gathers but I must admit, it sounds good! I plan to try the Edamame Hummus recipe soon – your photos is spectacuar. Enjoy the holiday Jill!

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