GateHouse News Service's weekly Food for Thought with tips on Asian inspiration, pho, and quiche.

Chefs continue to be inspired by global ingredients in 2013, and home cooks can take a cue by spicing up their own menus, too. Asian-inspired comfort foods with Thai, Vietnamese and Korean seasonings are at the forefront of flavor, and it's never been easier to dial up your dinners.

Fresh herbs and vegetables are key ingredients when it comes to Asian cooking and, paired with pork, you are sure to deliver a dish that packs delicious flavor. Whether it's a quick weeknight meal during the cooler months, or a themed-dinner party, try prepping the Simple Vietnamese Pork Noodle Bowl as an ultimate crowd-pleaser. Savory pork tenderloin and fresh lime contrast the spicy and sweet essence of vibrant basil.

Additionally, pork tenderloin is one of the leanest proteins available, containing only 3 grams of fat per 3-ounce serving, so fans can dig in with a happy heart. In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) has recently certified pork tenderloin as a heart-healthy food with its iconic Heart-Check mark. Now there's no better way to say "made with love" than by plating pork for any mealtime occasion.

You can vary this pho-inspired noodle bowl by mixing up the vegetables and garnishes. Try thinly sliced chiles, crushed red pepper flakes or chili sauce to bring on the heat. For a clean punch of flavor, cilantro, mint leaves or scallions will refresh your palate. 

For more "made with love" inspiration, recipes and tips, join the conversation at the new 

Simple Vietnamese Pork Noodle Bowl Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 35 minutes Makes: 6 servings   1 1 1/4 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch slices 12 ounces rice noodles 4 cups prepared slaw mix 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced 4 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth 4 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce 2 tablespoons canola oil or other neutral-flavored oil 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves 1 lime, cut into 6 wedges

Prepare noodles according to package directions. Arrange the noodles in 6 serving bowls. Top with slaw mix and onion, and set aside.

While noodles are cooking, in medium saucepan, combine chicken broth, fish sauce, and soy sauce and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to very low, to keep the broth just below a simmer.

In very large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the pork and cook until browned and cooked to 145 degrees F, 1 to 2 minutes per side (you may have to do this in batches). Let stand at room temperature for three minutes. Arrange the pork on top of the noodle bowls.

Ladle in piping-hot broth, garnish with basil and lime wedges, and serve.

-- Family Features

Tip of the Week

Because of their high nutrient content, consuming beans and peas is recommended for everyone, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Enjoy some vegetarian chili, three bean salad or split pea soup. Make a hummus-filled pita sandwich.


Easy Recipe

Crust-less Spring Quiche

1  16-ounce box Mrs. T's Potato and Cheddar Pierogies
1  tablespoon butter or margarine
1  small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1  cup mushrooms, sliced
3  cups baby spinach
2  scallions, sliced
1 1/2  cups milk
3  large eggs
3/4  teaspoon salt
1/4  teaspoon ground black pepper
1  cup shredded Asiago cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Boil pierogies as box directs.

Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat; add red pepper slices and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently about 5 minutes or until just tender. Remove to bowl with slotted spoon. Add spinach and scallions to drippings remaining in skillet; cook about 3 minutes or until just wilted. Remove to bowl with vegetables.

Grease 3-quart casserole dish. Beat milk, eggs, salt and pepper in large bowl, until well mixed. Add vegetables, cheese and cooked pierogies. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish. Bake 40 minutes, or until mixture is puffed and golden.

-- Family Features

Food Quiz

To what does the wine-geeky term "mall" refer?

A. Wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation

B. Wines from Saint-Malo, in Brittany, France

C. Wines that have developed an offensive odor or malodor

Answer at bottom of the rail.

Wise to the Word: Pho

A hearty broth-based Vietnamese soup most often made with beef, pho (pronounced "fuh") is eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Different recipes abound, but a traditional beef broth base is made with charred onions, ginger, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise. Thin slices of beef are added, as well as rice noodles and a variety of garnishes that include scallions, coriander, Thai basil, lemon, lime, bean sprouts, fish sauce and sriracha.


Number to Know

7,175: According to the USDA's "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" (KYF2) initiative, there are over 7,175 farmers markets around the country. That's triple the number from 15 years ago.

The Dish On...

"Eat Me: 169 Fun Recipes From All Over the World," by Paul R. DeLancey

From the author of "We’re French and You’re Not" and "The Fur West," De Lancey entertains supreme as he distills cooking to the simplest of terms — from boiling water (and identifying the stove) to preparing timeless classics from every corner of the globe including scrumptious Beef Stroganoff and Greek Wraps with tzatziki sauce. Every recipe is followed by hilarious tidbits, such as, "King Louis XV ate boiled eggs every Sunday. This practice ceased with his death." Eat Me is a cookbook spiced with comedy, leavened with silliness while still fully informative and functional. A great read for anyone's kitchen.


Food Quiz Answer

A. Wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation. Wines that undergo malolactic fermentation (a chemical process that changes a wine's acidity) may feel smoother than ones that don't; they might even seem creamy. That's because malolactic fermentation transforms tart malice acid into softer lactic acid (the same kind in milk).