Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Spinach, Mozzarella, Roasted Red Peppers, and Pesto

published Aug 8, 2022
Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Recipe

Even though it looks like a stunning dinner party dish you took hours on, cooking this stuffed pork tenderloin is surprisingly easy.

Serves4

Prep30 minutes

Cook36 minutes

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A photo of stuffed pork tenderloin on a wooden cutting board, cut into slices.
Credit: Olivia Mack McCool

Making a stuffed pork tenderloin is surprisingly easy, even though it may look like you’ve spent hours in the kitchen. Serve it as a midweek supper or delightful dinner-party dish with an element of wow factor. 

The culinary term when stuffing a pork tenderloin is a roulade, created by using a flat piece of meat or fish (or even cake to create desserts such as a chocolate Swiss roll). The flat surface is spread with a filling and then rolled into a log and then served sliced. Pork can tend to dry out, so when stuffed with a filling — especially with oozy cheese or juicy vegetables — it helps with this lean cut of meat. 

How To Cut a Pork Tenderloin for Stuffing

As pork tenderloins are long and rotund and shaped nothing like a flat piece of meat, you need to butterfly it by carefully slicing lengthwise down the tenderloin, leaving about 1/2-inch at the bottom to make sure it remains intact, so you are not left with two pieces! Then you open it out like a book, cover it with a layer of plastic wrap, and pound it with a meat mallet or rolling pin, so it is evenly flat and about 1/2-inch thick. (Giving the meat a good bashing is particularly helpful after a tough day!) Once the filling is spread inside, make sure you leave a border, so the filling doesn’t ooze out. (I like to tuck in the short ends of the meat to avoid any of it escaping during cooking). Then tightly roll the pork lengthwise, securing it with toothpicks or butcher’s twine, and sear it to create a nice golden crust before roasting in the oven.

Credit: Olivia Mack McCool

What Ingredients Can I Put in the Stuffing?

The world is your oyster when it comes to choosing ingredients for stuffing a pork tenderloin. Here are some ideas to mix and match.

  • Any melty cheese, such as cheddar, Gruyère, or Monterey Jack
  • Most soft herbs like basil, parsley, and chives
  • A layer of prosciutto before adding the filling 
  • Sautéed mushrooms with thyme
  • Ricotta mixed with finely grated Parmesan, a touch of lemon zest, and ground sage
  • Pesto and shredded mozzarella 
  • Spinach, goat cheese, and pine nuts

What Temperature Should I Cook Pork Tenderloin?

Cooking the seared meat in a preheated oven to 400°F is the sweet spot for cooking a stuffed pork tenderloin. This temperature results in a deeply colored exterior and juicy meat.

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Recipe

Even though it looks like a stunning dinner party dish you took hours on, cooking this stuffed pork tenderloin is surprisingly easy.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 36 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup

    pitted Castelvetrano olives

  • 1/3 cup

    roasted red peppers

  • 1/3 cup

    sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon

    drained capers

  • 1/2

    small yellow onion

  • 1 large clove

    garlic

  • 3 ounces

    fresh mozzarella cheese

  • 1 small bunch

    fresh oregano

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 3 ounces

    baby spinach (about 3 packed cups)

  • 1

    (1 1/2-pound) pork tenderloin

  • 1/4 cup

    store-bought or homemade basil pesto

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

  2. Prepare the following, adding each to the same medium bowl as you complete it: Coarsely chop 1/3 cup drained Castelvetrano pitted olives, 1/3 cup drained roasted red peppers, 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes, and 1 tablespoon capers.

  3. Finely chop 1/2 small yellow onion (about 1/2 cup). Finely grate 1 large garlic clove. Grate 3 ounces freh mozzarella cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 3/4 cup). Pick leaves from 1 small bunch fresh oregano and finely chop until you have 2 1/2 teaspoons.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large cast-iron or oven-safe skillet until shimmering. Add the onion, 1 teaspoon of the oregano, 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden-brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

  5. Add 3 ounces baby spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the olive mixture and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to a plate and let cool to room temperature.

  6. Meanwhile, wipe out the skillet. Trim away any silverskin from 1 (1 1/2-pound) pork tenderloin. Make a slit lengthwise down the center of the tenderloin, stopping about 1/2-inch from the other side so it remains intact. Open it up like a book. Cover with a large sheet of plastic wrap and pound with the flat side of a meat mallet or rolling pin until 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. Discard the plastic wrap.

  7. Spread 1/4 cup basil pesto onto the tenderloin, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Transfer the spinach mixture on top of the pesto. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and 1 teaspoon of the oregano. Fold the short ends over 1 to 1 1/2-inches to prevent the filling from escaping and so that it will fit in the pan. Starting at the bottom long edge, roll up the meat over the filling, using your fingers to tuck the filling in as you go. Position seam-side down. Secure with several toothpicks crosswise or tie with kitchen twine every 1 1/2-inches.

  8. Pat dry with a paper towel. Season all over with the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

  9. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in the reserved skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the tenderloin seam-side down and sear until golden brown all over, about 2 minutes per side. Arrange until seam-side down again.

  10. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer into the center registers 145ºF, 18 to 20 minutes.

  11. Transfer the pork to a clean cutting board and brush all over with some of the pan drippings. Let rest for 10 minutes. Brush again with remaining pan drippings. Cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch wide pieces, removing the toothpicks or twine as you go. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oregano and serve.

Recipe Notes

Pork tenderloin: If you cannot find a tenderloin that’s 1 1/2 pounds, you can use a smaller-sized tenderloin (no smaller than 1 pound), but you may not be able to fit all the filling. Any leftover filling can be stirred into a pasta sauce, or it also is delicious served on warm, crusty bread.

Fresh mozzarella substitute: You could substitute the mozzarella for any melty cheese, such as cheddar, Gruyère, or Monterey Jack.

Fresh oregano substitute: Swap out the fresh oregano for an equal amount of fresh basil, rosemary, or parsley leaves.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Make ahead: You can make the stuffed tenderloin up to the point of searing, and refrigerate it up to a day in advance. Let the meat come to room temperature before cooking.