by Pamela Sheldon Johns

This is fall comfort food. The apple and dried-apricot mixture is also an excellent stuffing for turkey or chicken.
1 boneless pork loin, (trimmed about 2 lbs.)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Granny Smith or pippin apple, peeled, cored, and diced
6 dried apricots, minced
1/2 cup (2 ozs.) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tsp. minced fresh sage
4 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced (reserve leaves garnish)
2 pounds Yukon Gold or yellow Finn potatoes, scrubbed and in half
10 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbs. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400°. Lightly oil a roasting pan.
Split the pork loin lengthwise without cutting completely through so that it can be opened like a book. Pound lightly to even thickness of about 1 inch. Season with salt and pepper.
Combine the apples, apricots, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and sage. Spread evenly inside the pork loin. Close the flaps to cover the stuffing and tie with kitchen twine at 2-inch intervals. Season the outside with salt and pepper.
In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat and cook until golden brown. Add the pork loin and lightly brown on all sides. Place in the prepared roasting pan.
Add the fennel, potatoes, and garlic cloves to the roasting pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the loin and vegetables. Roast in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160°.
Slice across the roll to serve. Transfer to warmed serving platter, add potatoes, fennel, and garlic. Garnish with fennel fronds. Serves 6.

This refreshing winter salad is a great starter. In larger portions, it can be served for a luncheon main course.
8 ripe blood oranges
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed finely sliced
4 leaves Bibb lettuce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
3 ozs. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

Cut off the top and bottom of the oranges down to the flesh. Stand each orange on end and cut off the peel down to the flesh with a large sharp knife, removing as much of the white pith as possible. Cut vertically along the membranes to free the segments of orange. Put the segments in a medium bowl, adding any juice from the cutting board.
Add the fennel to the oranges and toss gently. Arrange the lettuce leaves on salad plates and spoon on the orange and fennel mixture.
Mix the oil and vinegar together and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the oranges and fennel. Place a few walnut pieces and Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings on each serving. Serves 4.

You can't roast just one head of garlic...I always make extra to use as garnish, to spread on bread, to flavor salad dressings, or to snack on while I'm waiting for guests. For an extra garlic boost, use the oil left from roasting the garlic in place of the olive oil in this recipe.
4 large baking potatoes
1 head roasted garlic*
1 cup milk, heated
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup (4 ozs.) coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Peel the potatoes, and cut them into 2-inch chunks. Put in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Pass through a ricer or food mill and return to the saucepan.
Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from the skin and mash. Set aside.
Add the milk, olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and roasted garlic to the potatoes, stirring over low heat to warm. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer immediately to warmed serving dishes and serve. Serves 4.

* Using four heads of garlic, score around the middle of each head; do not cut into the cloves. Remove the top half of the papery skin, exposing the cloves. Place the heads of garlic in a roasting pan and pour 1/2 cup olive oil over them. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and bake for 1 hour in a 300° oven. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer, basting frequently, until heads are very tender. Let cool.

The classic combination of pears and Parmigiano-Reggiano makes a rich finish to a meal. For a simpler version, omit the Grand Marnier and orange zest.
2 ripe but firm Bosc or Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
4 small Parmigiano-Reggiano wedges

Toss the pear and sugar together gently in a bowl.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the pears and cook over medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar begins to caramelize to a light golden color. Do not let the sugar turn brown.
Add the Grand Marnier and orange zest. Cook 2 to 3 minutes longer or until slightly reduced.
Transfer the mixture to serving dishes and serve immediately, with the Parmigiano-Reggiano on the side. Serves 4.

From Parmigiano!, by Pamela Sheldon Johns. 1997 by Pamela Sheldon Johns and Jennifer Barry Design. Photograph by Steven Rothfeld. Excerpted by arrangement with Ten Speed Press. $17.95. Available in local bookstores, or call 800-841-2665.