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Cassoulet from Karista's Kitchen // A slow cooked French stew

Classic Cassoulet is a hearty slow-cooked dish originating in the south of France.  It’s often referred to as the “unofficial” national dish of France.

Traditionally, cassoulet includes what my Grandmother would refer to as “everything except the kitchen sink”.  Meaning that almost any meat, poultry, skin, gizzards, beans and whatever was available went into this succulent dish.

I’ve had a few truly authentic and amazing cassoulet’s in the past. All filled with decadent duck confit, pork skin, pork belly, mutton, sausages, fava beans and white beans. A meal so rich and lush, it’s everything you’d expect from a slow cooked French dish.

My cassoulet however is slightly less time-consuming, and not to worry, it doesn’t contain duck confit, mutton or pork belly. Although those ingredients are delicious in a cassoulet, I wanted to create this recipe to be simple, yet flavorful.

I also wanted this slow cooked stew to reflect the bounty of the Willamette Valley here in Oregon.  We’re so lucky to have an abundance of small farms and ranches nearby that raise grass-fed and pastured pigs, cattle and chickens. Not to mention all the gorgeous produce and fresh herbs.

I’ve included locally raised meat and poultry (chicken thighs, pork shoulder, sausages), white beans and lots of fresh herbs and aromatics.  You could also substitute with beef chuck roast, lamb or pork belly – and any type of sausages that you love.

This meal is perfect a la carte with a glass of French Burgundy or a Oregon Pinot Noir. It’s also quite lovely paired with a Salad Lyonnaise or Ratatouille, which I’ll get around to posting soon.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,



Serving Size: 6-8


  • 4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch or all-purpose flour
  • 2lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
  • 2-3 pork or beef sausages (I used my favorite German pork sausages)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 3-inch sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of dried herbs de Provence
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2-4 cups chicken broth, enough to just cover the meat
  • 2-3 15ounce cans white beans, drained (cannellini beans work best)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley


In a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot, heat about 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and then add them to the pot and brown on both sides. Transfer to a bowl or platter.

Next season the pork cubes with salt and pepper and then toss with the tablespoon of corn starch or flour. Add two more tablespoons of oil to the pot and brown the pork. You may need to brown the pork in batches, otherwise the pork won’t brown if the pot is over crowded. When the pork is browned, transfer to the bowl or platter with the chicken.

Next brown the sausages, adding additional oil if needed. Once the sausages are brown, transfer them to the bowl or platter with the chicken and pork.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pot and then stir in the onions. Saute the onions until wilted and fragrant and then add the garlic and cook for one minute longer.

Stir in the ½ cup of white wine, scraping up all the brown bits at the bottom. Add the fresh thyme sprigs and dried herbs. Place the chicken thighs, pork cubes and sausages back into the pot and then add the chicken broth. Enough to cover the meat.

Turn the heat down to a simmer and cover with a lid. Let the meat simmer in the broth and veggies for about 30-45 minutes, or until the pork is tender.

Remove the lid and then stir in the beans and season to taste with salt and pepper. The longer this stew sits the more flavor it will develop. I like to make this the day before I’m serving it, however, if I make it the same day I’m going to serve it, I’ll make it several hours prior and then let it sit for about 30 minutes on the stove top before serving. If you feel the flavors need a little boost, sometimes a teaspoon of white wine vinegar will bring all the flavors together.

Serve in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh chopped Italian parsley and a basket of crusty French bread.

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pasta Pork

Broccolini and Sausage Cavatappi

Broccolini and Sausage Cavatappi // Karista's Kitchen

I adore a a simple and flavorful meal that comes together easily like my family’s favorite Broccolini and Sausage Cavatappi.

This rustic and uncomplicated recipe uses fresh ingredients with a few pantry staples to make dinner nearly fuss-free and satisfying.

This Broccolini and Sausage Cavatappi uses ground sausage or ground chicken sausage but you can use whatever you like, or keep it vegetarian.  We have a fabulous sausage house in our little town that makes the most incredible and creative sausages from locally sourced ingredients. So it’s a treat for me to scoot-on-down (my Southernism for the day) to the sausage house and pick up some unique sausages for this recipe.

I’ve used the traditional Italian sausage, Swedish potato, andouille, cheddar and jalapeño, sun-dried tomato and feta and probably a few more. It’s ridiculously difficult for me to make a decision when I visit our local sausage house – and it doesn’t help if I’m hungry when I’m shopping for the sausages.

This recipe is paired with one of my favorite types of pastas, Cavatappi. Cavatappi, meaning corkscrew in Italian, feels heartier and a little fancier than macaroni but with a delightful texture that holds up to broccoli, cauliflower, ground meats and sauces.  When I can’t find broccolini or what some call broccoli rabe, I use the garden variety of broccoli.

I’ve been known to throw other veggies into the pot as well, especially if I have vegetables that are on their last days of shelf life.  I’ve used collard greens, mushrooms, Swiss chard, kale, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant; leftover cooked veggies that easily pair with this cozy recipe.

Broccolini and Sausage Cavatappi works beautifully as a quick weeknight meal but it’s also ideal for a cozy fall or winter weekend meal paired with a glass of Chianti.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


Broccolini and Sausage Cavatappi

Serving Size: 4-6

Broccolini and Sausage Cavatappi


  • 12 ounces Cavatappi pasta
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1-2 lbs Broccolini (broccoli rabe), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 lb ground sweet or spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 cup of prepared basil pesto
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup grated parmesan


Fill a pasta pot with water and heat over high heat. When the water boils, salt the water with one tablespoon of salt. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. About five minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccolini to the pasta. Continue to cook and when the pasta is done, the broccolini should be done as well.

While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the sausage. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a medium or large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the onion until wilted and then add the Italian sausage and cook until done.

When the pasta is done, drain the pasta and broccolini and place it back into the pasta pot. Toss the pasta and broccolini with the pesto and then fold in the sausage and onions. Stir in the squeeze of fresh lemon and then season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Pour the pasta into a serving dish or individual dishes and garnish with grated parmesan and serve.

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Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pork

Easy Baked Boudin Balls

Easy Baked Boudin Balls with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce // Karista's Kitchen

I know what you’re thinking.  What is a Baked Boudin Ball?   That’s the question I asked when I first moved to Louisiana many years ago.

Baked Boudin Balls are a Cajun and Creole tradition, steeped in one of the most delicious culinary histories.

Friends and co-workers would bring Tupperware bowls of Boudin Balls to work for Friday potluck or birthday celebrations.  I remember the first time I bit into one of those tempting treats, filled with a regional spicy boudin sausage and white rice, rolled in bread crumbs and then fried to perfection.  They were so delicious and so addicting, I found myself standing around the potluck table stuffing my face with the savory nibbles.

I left that event telling myself I had to learn how to make Boudin Balls at home.

Boudin Balls got their name from the Cajun/Creole sausage, Boudin, that originates in Louisiana.  You probably won’t find it outside of Louisiana or East Texas, unless you make it yourself.  Typically, Boudin is prepared with pork, rice, green peppers, onions and seasonings, put through a meat grinder and then stuffed into sausage casings.  Grilled, pan seared, steamed or sautéed, every Boudin recipe varies from region to region and family to family.

Easy Baked Boudin Balls with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce // Karista's Kitchen

When I left Louisiana, I moved to the northeast and there wasn’t a boudin sausage to be found.  So rather than try making my own, I substituted with local sausage specialties.  Now living in the Pacific Northwest, we have a local sausage house that makes a variety of pork and beef sausages from locally sourced meat that are perfect for making Boudin Balls.

Sometimes I make Boudin Balls with mild ground chorizo or a sweeter pork breakfast sausage; and sometimes I’ll use a hot and spicy Cajun pork sausage or chicken sausage.  Once, I even used a duck sausage – just for kicks.

Whatever sausage you decide to use, I’ve simplified my version of Baked Boudin Balls so everyone can make these at home and enjoy a little taste of Cajun and Creole cuisine.

To make the Boudin Balls even more delicious, I’ve paired them with a Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce – because you know how much my family loves a good sauce. 😉

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


Easy Baked Boudin Balls

Serving Size: 10-12

Easy Baked Boudin Balls

These savory starters are perfect for game day, dinner parties, brunch, after school snacks or holiday celebrations. Or you can make some for a light and simple dinner and pair it with a glass of wine.


  • 1 lb ground pork breakfast sausage, ground mild chorizo or any ground artisan sausage you prefer
  • 2 cups cooked white rice, warm
  • ¼ cup finely diced green onion or chives
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 cup of plain breadcrumbs
  • For the Honey Mustard Sauce:
  • 1 cup yellow or Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup honey


Preheat the oven to 400F.

Place the bread crumbs in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground sausage, white rice and green onions until nicely incorporated. Then mix in the whisked egg.

Form tablespoon size balls and then roll them in the breadcrumbs and place them on a lined baking sheet.

Bake them in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until they are nicely browned and cooked through.

While the Boudin Balls are baking, whisk together the mustard and honey and place in a serving bowl.

Let the Boudin Balls cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve with the Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce.


I created this recipe for Home By Design Magazine and originally published in the Feb/Mar 2016 Issue.

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Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pork Seafood

The Ultimate Super Bowl Menu

Garlic Shrimp and Goat Cheese Toasts // Karista's Kitchen

Super Bowl Sunday is around the corner and it’s time to start planning all those game day nibbles and feasts!

The Super bowl menu is one of the most fun menu’s to plan – it almost feels like another holiday celebration.

Cubano Sliders with Marinated Pork, Ham, Swiss Cheese, Pickles, Mustard on Sweet Slider Buns // Karista's Kitchen

Even though my team isn’t in the Super Bowl (crying, sad face) this year, I’m rooting for my cousin Shelby’s team (sorry Carolina fans… Go Broncos!) and cooking up a delicious table of food to commemorate the day.

Asian Salmon Sliders with Cilantro Lime Aioli and Marinated Cucumbers // Karista's Kitchen

I’m posting some tasty food from the archives as well as a new appetizer that is over the top lush with creamy goat cheese and garlic goodness.  My Garlic Shrimp on Goat Cheese Toasts.

Nori wrapped salmon with fresh herbs, dijon and wasabi

I’ve also included these flavorful and hearty Cubano Sliders and Asian Salmon Sliders on the Super Bowl menu and for lighter fare, I’m serving my Grilled Crab and Avocado Quesadillas with Pineapple Cilantro Salsa and Nori Wrapped Salmon Bites.

Crab and Avocado Quesadillas with Pineapple Cilantro Salsa // Karista's Kitchen


Rounding out the Super Bowl menu is my most requested recipe, Slow Oven Baked Ribs.  I like to plan a large table of food so there will be a little something for everyone. 

Slow Oven Baked Ribs // Karista's Kitchen

Of course we can’t skip dessert on this momentous occasion, so I’m going to totally step outside this wintry, cold season, reach into my freezer for the last few bags of blueberries that I froze over the summer to make Max’s Five Ingredient Blueberry Cobbler!

Easy five ingredient blueberry cobbler // Karista's Kitchen

Super Bowl Sunday never tasted so good!  Bet you wish you were eating at my house next weekend 😉

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


The Ultimate Super Bowl Menu

16-20 Toasts

The Ultimate Super Bowl Menu

Gulf prawns are tender and sweet and make a delicious pairing with these creamy goat cheese toasts. Combined with fresh garlic and butter, this decadent first course will bring pleasure to everyone’s palate.


  • 1 large baguette, sliced into 1-2 inch thick slices
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil for brushing baguette slices
  • 8 ounces creamy goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chive
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 – 1 ½ lb Gulf Prawns (about 20-24), deveined with tails on, patted dry with a paper towel
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Additional chopped fresh chive for garnish


Preheat the oven to 375F.

Brush each slice of baguette with olive oil, one side only, and place olive oil side up on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, just enough to lightly toast the baguette slices. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little salt.

In a small bowl mix together the goat cheese and chopped chives. Spread a teaspoon or more onto each toast. Either keep the toasts on the baking sheet or place the toasts on a serving platter.

Season the prawns with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium high heat and then add 2 tablespoons butter and the oil. When the butter and oil are hot, almost smoking, place the shrimp in a single layer in the pan and brown on each side, about one to two minutes each side. You may need to brown the shrimp in batches depending on the size of your pan.

Once the last batch of shrimp is browned, add all the shrimp back into the pan and take the pan off the heat. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, chopped garlic and squeeze of lemon coating all the shrimp.

Place one or two shrimp on each goat cheese toast and then garnish with additional fresh chive. Serve immediately.

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Appetizers DaVinci Wine Recipes Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta Pork Seafood

Part Two Feast of the Seven Fishes with DaVinci Wine

Italian Sausage and Shrimp Stew for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a delicious Italian tradition where seven delectable fish dishes are served for Christmas Eve dinner.

This year DaVinci Wine asked me to create seven festive and delightful fish dishes for their Feast of the Seven Fishes. This is the part of my job I absolutely love – especially when it involves fish and DaVinci wine.

The first five dishes we paired with DaVinci Pinot Grigio. You’ll find them HERE along with the first Feast of the Seven Fishes post HERE.

In this second post, I’m highlighting the last two fish recipes that we’ve paired with DaVinci Chianti. As well as one of the seven fish dishes that I believe pairs beautifully with both the DaVinci Pinot Grigio and DaVinci Chianti.

When I visited Italy with DaVinci Wine in 2013, I dined on the most decadent food but also the most decadent seafood dishes. One particular starter that struck me as simple but so lovely in flavor was a crostini with homemade ricotta topped with a single anchovy. I call it Bruno’s Crostini – named after our gracious lunch host and DaVinci grower, Bruno Rossetti.

Smoked Salmon Crostini with Herbed Ricotta for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

Although I prepare this starter often, I love using smoked salmon with ricotta cheese. Going a step further, I added fresh chopped herbs to the ricotta for a little more “bite” to the recipe. Salmon pairs extremely well with DaVinci Pinot Grigio, so I included this lovely starter in the first post.

However, I adore pairing both salmon and smoked salmon with DaVinci Chianti as well. Because DaVinci Chianti is well balanced with jammy flavors of ripe plums, cherries and red fruit, it beautifully compliments the smoked salmon and herbed ricotta crostini – making it another lovely wine pairing for this gorgeous starter.

Italian Sausage and Shrimp Stew for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

Another recipe from our Feast of the Seven Fishes is an impressive dish everyone will enjoy. An Italian Sausage and Shrimp stew that warms the soul and delights the taste buds. This is an intensely flavored dish, filled with aromatics, fresh herbs that bring earthiness to the recipe, tangy tomatoes and spicy Italian sausage combined with fresh shrimp and clams.   Sounds like a winning combination to me! Although I use the DaVinci Pinot Grigio in the stew, I think this stew is best served with DaVinci Chianti.

The last fish dish in this series, is the gorgeous Spaghetti alle Vongole (Spaghetti with Red Clam Sauce). Just the name of this dish sounds enticing.

Spaghetti Vongole for Feast of the Seven Fishes // Karista's Kitchen and DaVinci Wine

The Vongole sauce is distinctive and lush, prepared with fresh ingredients and a cup of DaVinci Chianti to round out flavors. It’s a hearty sauce that beautifully envelops the pasta and compliments the steamed clams – garnished with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh Italian parsley.

Creating a festive and exquisite Christmas Eve celebration is as simple as these seven fish dishes. Feast of the Seven Fishes paired with DaVinci Wine will delight your guests and bring delicious merry making to your holiday celebration.

Wishing you warm and Delicious Holidays!

Loads of Love,




Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork Salad Sassy Side dishes

Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Plum Sauce

Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Spiced Dried Plum Sauce // Karista's Kitchen

So how does one achieve a gorgeous holiday entrée without hours in the kitchen?  They serve this beautiful Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with a Spiced Dried Plum Sauce.  

Sounds fancy doesn’t it? Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin is fairly simple to prepare and doesn’t need a lot of prep time before popping it in the oven.  Once it’s in the oven, whip up the sauce and hold it until it’s time to serve.  This mouth-watering recipe will leave you time to prepare other dishes for your celebration, as well as time with your guests. Which is what I love the most… time with my guests!  And the cocktails of course. 🙂

Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Spiced Dried Plum Sauce // Karista's Kitchen

I love the rustic simplicity of wrapping strips of bacon around lean pork loin.  This adds flavor and moisture which adds beautiful depth to this dish.

Serving the Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with a spiced dried plum sauce laced with spices that compliment both pork and bacon, completes this gorgeous flavor profile – but still keeps the entrée simple.

Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes // Karista's Kitchen

To complete this meal, I paired this Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with a sassy bowl of Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes, because bacon wrapped anything simply needs mashed potatoes.  To lighten up the flavors and refresh the palate, I also paired the meal with an Arugula and Citrus Salad to finish.  Keeping the meal low fuss in preparation but high in flavor for the ultimate holiday dinner celebration.

Arugula and Citrus Salad with Crumbled Goat Cheese // Karista's Kitchen

Because I originally created this Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin for the good folks at Western Horse & Gun Magazine (holiday 2015 issue), I thought I’d end with a closing sentence of western wisdom.

In the words of the cowgirls and cowboys before us…  get up and dust your trail to a mighty tasty holiday celebration and take a stab at this Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Spiced Dried Plum Sauce – for the ultimate Yehaw from all your guests.

Happiest of Holidays to ya!


Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Plum Sauce

Serving Size: 6-8

Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Plum Sauce


    For the Bacon Wrapped Pork
  • 2 ½ - 3lbs Pork Loin, remove from the fridge about 30 minutes prior to roasting
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian Herbs (oregano, Italian parsley, rosemary, sage, marjoram)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 12 ounces sliced bacon, enough slices to cover the entire pork loin (not thick sliced)
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 ounce package of dried plums
  • 1 ½ cups dry white wine
  • ½ pint heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of red currant jelly (I’ve also used my homemade blackberry jelly and it was delicious)
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish
  • For the Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes
  • 3-4lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup of heavy cream, slightly warmed
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 ounces crumbled good quality Gorgonzola
  • Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • Fresh chopped chives for garnish
  • For the Arugula and Citrus Salad
  • 1-2 cup assorted citrus wedges (grapefruit, mandarin oranges, blood oranges, etc)
  • 4-6 cups baby arugula leaves, packed
  • 6 ounces crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
  • Drizzle good quality aged balsamic vinegar
  • Drizzle good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


For the Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin

Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

Place the paper towel dried pork loin on a baking or roasting sheet. Rub the pork loin with the olive oil. Mix the dried herbs, salt and pepper together and then sprinkle over the pork loin.

Starting at one end, wrap the bacon around the pork loin and continue with strips of bacon until the entire pork loin is wrapped. You may not be able to wrap the bacon completely around your pork loin if it’s larger in size. However, it will still be delicious.

Once the pork loin is wrapped, place the baking or roasting sheet in the oven. The pork loin should cook for about 20-25 minutes per pound and it should reach an internal temperature of 145F. During the last 5 or 10 minutes I like to turn on the broiler and crisp up the bacon if it has crisped enough.

Once the pork is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes before slicing.

To make the sauce - In a sauce pan heat the wine on medium heat and add the dried plums. Let the wine and plums simmer until the wine has reduced by half, about 8-10 minutes. Gently fold in the cream, cloves, cinnamon, and red currant jelly. Bring the heat back to a boil and then reduce to a lively simmer until the sauce begins to thicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the sauce with the sliced pork loin.

For the Gorgonzola Mashed Potatoes

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cool water. Add a pinch or two of salt to the water. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to simmer the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes or until you can poke the potatoes easily with a fork.

Once the potatoes are done, drain all but about ½ cup of potato water. Mash the potatoes and ½ cup of potato water with a potato masher or in an electric mixer. Once the potatoes are as chunky or as smooth as you like, mix in the butter, warmed heavy cream and Gorgonzola. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve in a beautiful bowl and garnish with chopped fresh chives or a little additional Gorgonzola crumbles.

For the Arugula Citrus Salad

In a large bowl, toss the arugula with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Place the dressed arugula on a platter and layer with citrus and then the crumbled goat cheese.

Garnish with toasted pine nuts and serve immediately.

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Appetizers Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pork

Back to School Sausage Rolls

Cuisinart Back to School Sausage Rolls 5

“After school is my favorite part of the day Mom”. This is what my youngest daughter used to tell me when she was little.  I once asked why it was her favorite part of the day and she replied “because when I open the front door it smells like home”.   Tell me that wouldn’t melt your heart into a giant puddle?!

After melting into that giant puddle I asked “what smells like home?”  My daughter said “it smells like delicious food”.

I didn’t always work from home so on those days I’d try to have something tasty (and mostly healthy) in the fridge to warm up or on the counter in the treat bin.  Because after that heart melting statement, how could I not have an after school snack for my little gal who obviously cherished that one moment every day?

Back to School Sausage Rolls with your favorite sausage, cheese and puff pastry // Karista's Kitchen

Making these sausage rolls is a snap. I first learned of these tasty little treats from my friend Suzie, who is from the UK.  

She used to bring them to elementary school for events or teacher appreciation day.  I must have been the one adult to eat my weight in these delectable bite sized nibbles.  So when Cuisinart sent me the Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven to review, I thought these savory baked sausage rolls would be a perfect first recipe to prepare and test out this fabulous piece of kitchen equipment.

Cuisinart Convection Toaster Oven // Karista's Kitchen

I’m not one to load my kitchen with lots of equipment but I have to tell you this toaster oven has gotten a lot of use since it’s arrival.  During the hot summer I cooked everything in it.  From salmon filets and burgers to flatbread pizza, blueberry crisp and brownies.  It was so hot this summer I didn’t want to turn on my oven and grilling outside often seemed way too much effort in the scorching heat.

The Cuisinart convection feature is perfect for quickly cooking and searing in juices of fish, poultry, pork and meat and it cooked salmon burgers and stuffed portabella mushrooms perfectly.  My family thoroughly enjoys the toaster oven feature. It makes preparing flatbread or pizza and warming up leftover macaroni and cheese simple and quick.  It’s also easy to clean and just the right size so it doesn’t take up too much counter space.

These tasty sausage rolls keep well in the fridge and can be warmed up in the toaster oven as well.  But I have to admit, they are pretty darn delicious right out of the oven.

Wishing you a happy and safe school year and a most fabulous Autumn season!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Back to School Sausage Rolls

6-12 depending on the size of the sausages

Back to School Sausage Rolls


  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
  • 9-12 small sausages or hot dogs, if using sausages gently cut the casing and slide the sausage out of the casing. (I used chicken apple breakfast sausages)
  • 3-4 slices cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese)
  • 1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon of water
  • Yellow Mustard, Honey Mustard or Maple Syrup for dipping
  • Serve with assorted cut or sliced veggies for a delicious and healthy snack


This recipe makes 6-12 sausage rolls depending on the size of your sausages. I used smaller chicken apple breakfast sausages, removed from the casing and then cut in half.

Preheat the oven to 425F and place a piece of parchment on the baking tray.

Roll out the puff pastry and cut three even strips.

Depending on the size of your sausages, divide each strip of puff pastry into thirds or half. Cut the cheese slices into halves or thirds.

Whisk the egg with the water for the egg wash.

At one end of a square of puff pastry, brush with a little egg wash and then place a strip of cheese and then a piece of sausage on the end of the pastry square. Roll up the pastry to enclose the sausage, pinching the seam a bit to keep the pastry closed and then place it seam side down on the baking tray. Repeat the process for each piece of pastry.

Once the rolls are done, score the top of each sausage roll with a knife and then brush with the remaining egg wash.

Place them in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown and the sausages look done.

Let them cool for about 5 minutes before serving. The sausage will be very hot! I like to serve these with honey mustard, yellow mustard or maple syrup for dipping.

Store in a closed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.


To serve these for a party, I also like to serve them with tomato jam or chutney.

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Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

Cubano Sliders – Small Plate Entertaining

Cubano Sliders with Marinated Pork, Ham, Swiss Cheese, Pickles and Mustard on Sweet Slider Buns // Karista's Kitchen

I’ve always had a love affair with the Cubano sandwich.  What’s not to love?  These Cubano Sliders are packed with so much flavor and texture, it makes me happy just to look at one sitting on my plate.

I’ve dined on many Cubano’s, some good, but some so spectacular it’s all I could think about for days after dining on the sandwich.   Which is what happened after watching the movie “Chef“.  I stayed up late one evening, waiting for my teenager to arrive home by curfew, (because I can’t sleep until I know she’s home safe and sound) so I decided to watch the movie “Chef”.  I like the cast of actors and of course the premise for the movie intrigued me. 😉

I laughed, I cried, I empathized, I cheered… and then I was hungry.

The movie reminded me why I’m so passionate about cooking.  Why I love food and why I love to feed people.  Why I stick with a career that can be both physically and mentally demanding but completely creative and rewarding at the same time.

Guess what was on the menu a few days later?  Cubano Sliders.

Not long after my Cubano weekend, I was creating menu ideas for one of my clients “small plates” themed issues and I realized how much fun these Cubano Sliders would be for a small plates dinner party.  

I couldn’t let the summer slip by without sharing these little lovelies with you.  These Cubano Sliders are perfect for entertaining or dinner or even and after school snack.  Personally, I could eat them any time of the day or night.

A festive and delicious way to end the summer season and begin the new school year.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


Cubano Sliders

Serving Size: 8-10

Cubano Sliders


  • 1 pork tenderloin, about ¾ - 1lb
  • For the Marinade
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground all-spice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves
  • For the Slider
  • Marinated pork tenderloin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground all-spice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ lb sliced baked ham
  • 1 small jar of sliced pickles
  • 10 slices Swiss cheese
  • Yellow mustard
  • Slider Buns


To marinate the pork, place the tenderloin in a non-reactive or glass dish. Mix together the orange juice, pineapple juice, sliced onion, garlic, cumin, all-spice cinnamon stick, cilantro and salt. Pour this mixture over the tenderloin and cover with plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator and let it marinate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

To prepare the pork, preheat the oven to 375F. Remove the pork from the marinade and discard the marinade. Paper towel dry the pork and then rub it with one tablespoon of olive oil. Mix together the salt, pepper and the all-spice and rub it onto the pork. Place the pork in a baking dish and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145F.

Remove the pork from the oven and let it cool. Once the pork has cooled, thinly slice the pork and set aside.

Turn the oven down to 350F.

Slice the slider buns in half and place them on a baking sheet. Add a slice of Swiss cheese to both the top and bottom of each slider bun. Then add a dash of mustard on top of the cheese on both the bottom and top of each slider bun.

Place thin sliced pork tenderloin, thin sliced pickles and thin sliced baked ham on the bottom slider buns. Place the tops of the buns (with just the cheese and mustard) over the pork and pickles and the press down slightly to keep the sliders in tact.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and let them warm until the cheese begins to melt, about 5 minutes or so.

Remove the sliders from the oven and serve.


I originally created this recipe for Home By Design Magazine August/September 2015 issue.

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Beef Chicken Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood Tips and Techniques vegetarian

Three Compound Butter Recipes

Grilled Fresh Corn on the Cob with Compound Butter // Karista's Kitchen

Have you ever grilled a piece of fish or chicken and then wish you had a little something to dollop on top – just for a little extra flavor and fun?

Compound butter is perfect for grilled, pan seared or roasted meat, fish and veggies.  

Just make a few of these compound butters and keep them in the fridge.  They will hold for several months and when you’re ready to use them just slice a coin of  compound butter and dollop it on your “hot off the grill” fish, meat or veggies.

Grilled Vegetable Skewers with Garlic Lemon & Thyme Compound Butter // Karista's Kitchen

Compound butter is simply butter that has been mixed with a few ingredients of your choice; like garlic & herbs or anchovies and capers or lemon zest and cumin…  and most often used to enhance a simple pan seared or grilled fish, meat and veggies.   I typically make my compound butters savory, but during grilling season I also make a sweet compound butter spiked with spices and vanilla beans to use over grilled fruit or cake.

You’re going to love these three compound butter recipes but feel free to experiment and make your own.  It’s a great way to use up the excess fresh herbs from the herb garden or citrus that might have seen better days. I also like to use finely chopped toasted nuts or cheese in my compound butters.

Summer is in full swing and using compound butter to enhance the flavor of our grilled meals makes a delicious ending to a busy day.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Three Compound Butter Recipes

Each recipe makes 8 tablespoons

Three Compound Butter Recipes


    Chipotle Orange Butter
  • ½ cup (8 tablespoons) salted sweet cream butter, room temperature
  • One canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • Garlic Lemon Thyme Butter
  • ½ cup (8 tablespoons) salted sweet cream butter, room temperature
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
  • Cilantro Lime Butter
  • ½ cup (8 tablespoons) salted sweet cream butter, room temperature
  • 1 lime, zested
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro


Compound butter can either be mixed by hand or in a food processor. If mixing by hand, add the ingredients to a small bowl and mix with a fork until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

If you are using a food processor, add the ingredients to the food processor and pulse until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap on a flat surface and spoon the butter onto the plastic wrap forming a log. Fold the plastic wrap over the butter and twist the ends. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before using. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.


I created this recipe originally for the beautiful Home By Design Magazine June/July 2015

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Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

Chicken Scarpariello

Chicken Scarpariello recipe from Rao's in Las Vegas // Isernio Sausage Company // Karista's Kitchen

Chicken Scarpariello from Rao’s in Las Vegas using hot and mild sausage from Isernio’s Sausage Company

Chicken Scarpariello is definitely a mouth full of words. When I stumbled upon this recipe years ago I was completely intrigued by the name of this dish.

You’re probably asking yourself “how do I pronounce Scarpariello?” Well, I say it like this, “scar/par/ee/ello”.  Say it several times quickly and it’ll eventually roll off your tongue as if you’ve been speaking Italian for years.

After doing a bit of research, I found that most culinarian’s believe this Chicken Scarpariello likely originated in the United States. However, because Chicken Scarpariello is similar in ingredients and preparation to many traditional Southern Italian recipes, many feel it’s an evolution of Southern Italian recipes that have been translated from one generation to the next.

Chicken Scarpariello recipe from Rao's in Las Vegas // Karista's Kitchen // Isernio's Sausage Company

This hearty dish, often referred to as Shoemakers Chicken, is filled with ingredients that are big and bold in flavor. Chicken that has been pan seared along with my favorite Isernio’s hot and mild Italian sausages, red peppers, potatoes, onions, garlic, oregano and a few sweet but spicy vinegar hot peppers.   Then all the ingredients are tossed together in a light white wine sauce making the most delicious chicken dinner you’ve ever tasted.

I describe Chicken Scarpariello as a lusty and robust dish that is rich in flavor, delightful to the palate and welcomed anytime of the year.

Chicken Scarpariello is perfect for large gatherings with friends or family or a Sunday supper. I love making this dish for a weekend meal, serving it with bottles of Chianti or Pinot Grigio, fresh tomato and basil bruschetta over ricotta, drizzled with sweet balsamic vinegar.

This particular Chicken Scarpariello recipe is from the world-renowned restaurant Rao’s and I created the photo for my friends at the fabulous Isernio’s Sausage Company.  Buon Appetito!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Chicken Scarpariello

Serving Size: 4-6

Chicken Scarpariello


  • 4 Isernio’s Italian Sausages, 2 Mild Italian and 2 Hot Italian
  • 4 - 6 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless, about 1.5 lbs.
  • about 1/8 cup flour
  • 2 red potatoes, about 1 lb.
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, cut lengthwise into 1/4" strips
  • 2 bell peppers, red & yellow, cored, seeded and cut lengthwise into 1/4" strips
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh oregano, coarsely chopped or 1 1/2 tps. dried
  • 2 hot cherry peppers, in vinegar from a jar, seeded and quartered - Optional
  • 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3 - 4 tsp. Salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350°. Scrub potatoes and cut into quarters. Place in a sauce pan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp. salt and boil, partially covered for 10 minutes. Drain well, cool slightly, peel and cut into 3/8" slices. Set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large 12" skillet on medium heat, cook the sausage on both sides, until browned, about 8 minutes total. Remove sausages from pan, cut into 3/4" slices and set aside. Sausage does not need to be cooked through, just browned on the outside.

Pat chicken dry, salt & pepper both sides and dust in flour. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to the pan, saute chicken until browned, 5-7 minutes per side, about 14 minutes total. Remove chicken from pan, cut into 2" pieces and set aside.

Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to the pan. Add the onion, peppers, 1 tsp. salt and 1 Tbsp. of the oregano (if using dried, put all in now), mix well and saute for 4 minutes until slightly softened. Add the chopped garlic and saute 1 minute. Add the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping the brown bits off the bottom for another 5 minutes. Add the sausage, chicken, potatoes, cherry peppers, white wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano and chicken broth. Mix well and place in oven uncovered for 20 minutes.

Taste for salt & pepper, serve immediately with remaining fresh oregano.


This recipe is from Rao's Las Vegas and using Isernio's Hot and Mild Italian Sausage.

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork VRAI Magazine

Marinated Pork and Mango Skewers with Coconut Rice

Pork and Mango Skewers with Coconut Rice // Karista's Kitchen for VRAI Magazine

It’s starting to feel like spring and I am beyond elated! The high today is 67 here in the valley and it’s going to be a great day for prepping the new garden.  Ranger Craig is building the rest of the garden boxes while I prepare a quick meal for my friends over at Red Bird Acres.  We’re off to see baby chicks and piglets again!  Ok, I admit, I’m really excited about seeing the baby chicks and piglets this afternoon.

Before I get my day started, I want to share with you my latest recipe and article for VRAI MagazineMarinated Pork and Mango Skewers with Coconut Rice. The blend of marinated pork with sweet mango, peppers and red onion make for the tastiest combination of flavors.  Perfect for a casual weekend with friends and family.  If it’s too cold to grill outdoors, these skewers can easily be prepared indoors on a grill pan.  Or stir fried and then ladled over the coconut rice.

Enjoy your weekend!  Just in case you haven’t seen pictures from the last piglet visit, I’ve posted a few for you 🙂

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


Red Bird Acres in Corvallis, Oregon


Karista's Kitchen Pork Tips and Techniques

Spanish Chili (Carcamusa) from the book Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain

Carcamusa a Spanish Style Chili with chorizo, pork loin, pork shoulder, jamon ham, tomato frito, piquillo peppers and peas // Karista's Kitchen

I’ve dog-eared almost every recipe in this book – Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain by Chef Jeffery Weiss.  It’s taken me almost two weeks to finish reading it; not due to lack of time but because every page is so fascinating I couldn’t skip a word.

When my friend Traca Savadogo asked if I’d like to review this book, I jumped at the chance.  I’ve heard some words of praise for this book but I haven’t had the chance to read it and it definitely piques my interest.  Chef Weiss has more than 15 years experience as a professional chef, working with some of the most well-known and celebrated chefs of our time.  Chef Weiss is one of a select few Americans to earn the prestigious ICEX Culinary scholarship that allowed him to live in Spain, learn its regional cuisines and cook in the kitchens of top Spanish chefs.

Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain by Chef Jeffery Weiss

When the book arrived in the mail, I got that butterfly in the stomach, thrill of excitement one feels when getting a new book.  I couldn’t finish my work fast enough so I could sit on my sofa with a cup of tea and dive in.  I am deeply enamored with culinary anthropology and where does this gorgeous book begin?   With Spanish gastronomy and culinary history, along with a foreward by the James Beard award-winning chef, Jose Andres .  I was in culinary book heaven.   Lavish and comprehensive, the cookbook describes the history and evolution of various forms of Spanish charcuterie, Spanish pork butchery, charcuterie basics with recipes and photos that will make you want to eat the page.

Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain by Jeffery Weiss

Charcuteria not only features 100 mouth-watering recipes, it gives a detailed, informative and educational look at the traditional meat-curing and butchering techniques from the Iberian Peninsula; a spellbinding read of this unique Spanish tradition.  I’m not kidding when I tell you, Spain will be on your bucket list after reading this book.  And Spanish cuisine and the art of charcuterie will be your new food love.

Although I can appreciate and enjoy every charcuterie and recipe in this book, some of the ingredients may not be easy to find depending where you live; and some of us may not have a taste for a particular ingredient.  Yes, I’m speaking of blood sausages.  I think the two things I have never had an affinity for are blood sausages and haggis. I can prepare them, I just don’t eat them.  I often wish I had the adventurous palate of Anthony Bourdain.

So which recipe to cook for this review?  That was the question of the week.  I couldn’t decide, so I prepared three.

Habas con Jamon – a fresh dish of fava beans, basic sofrito, jamon ham, spring onions and mint leaves.

Garbanzos con Butifarra Negra – a dish of chickpeas, onions, flat leaf parsley, mint leaves, garlic, Butifarra Negra sausages, toasted pine nuts and spinach leaves.

Carcamusa – a Spanish Chili prepared with pork loin, pork collar, chorizo, onions, jamon, garlic, piquillo confit peppers, tomato frito and peas. This gorgeous dish is served family style with fresh bread for dunking.

Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain by Chef Jeffery Weiss

The flavors abound in these dishes – dancing on your palate while making one want to turn on the Spanish music and daydream of dining in Spain.

These recipes are so fantastic, two of the dishes were devoured long before I could snap a photo. I managed to reign in my hungry crew to snap a few photos before they started on the Carcamusa, a Spanish chili of sorts.  It was such an impressive recipe my family has requested it several times.

Because I live in the Willamette Valley, rich in locally raised pork, I’m usually able to find most ingredients for sausage and charcuterie.  I haven’t prepared any of the charcuterie recipes yet, but I did locate an authentic Spanish Cantimpalos-style chorizo that is divine.  Spanish jamon is typically easy to find at most gourmet markets or your local butcher or sausage vendor.  Fresh piquillo peppers are not in season here as of yet, so I substituted with jarred roasted piquillo peppers.  In the Carcamusa recipe, I list the original version of the recipe with a few substitutions.

A very long list of recipes to prepare from this book remains on my desk.  If I can keep my crew from diving in before photos, hopefully I’ll share a few more recipes with you.  One lazy weekend in the near future I’ll be trying my hand at making chorizo – always one of my favorite charcuterie.   Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain has been an immense pleasure to read.  What a delightful culinary treasure to have in my library of books for generations to come.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Spanish Chili (Carcamusa) from the book Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain

Serving Size: 4-6

Spanish Chili (Carcamusa) from the book Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain


  • 1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 18 ounces (500g) pork loin, cut into large dice
  • 18 ounces (500g) pork collar (I substituted with pork shoulder), cut into large dice
  • Kosher salt as needed
  • 4 Cantimpalos-style or Riojano-style Chorizo sausages, cut into small dice (I used 2 Cantimpalos style Chorizo, these are dry cured sausages not ground meat)
  • 5 ounces (150g) diced Jamon or Lacon Cocido
  • 1 medium yellow onion, small diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 fresh bay leaves (I used one dry bay leaf)
  • 4 Piquillo Confit Peppers, minced (recipe follows) or (I used 4-6 jarred roasted piquillo peppers instead of making confit as I couldn't find fresh piquillo peppers)
  • 1 quart (950ml) Tomato Frito (recipe follows)
  • 11 ounces frozen peas
  • For the Piquillo Confit Peppers
  • 2.2lbs (1kg) of medium fresh piquiilo peppers
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (85g) honey, such as rosemary, thyme or orange blossom
  • 2/3 ounce (20g) kosher salt
  • 1 ounce (25g) sugar
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 10 springs fresh thyme
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • For the Tomato Frito
  • 2.2 lbs (1kg) of fresh tomatoes or canned San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) good Spanish extra virgin olive lil, such as piqual
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into thin julienne
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Granulated sugar to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a medium saucepan, warm the oil over medium-high heat until rippling but not smoking.

Season the meats with salt and pepper and add it to the saucepan. Sear for 4-6 minutes, until the meat is browned. You may have to brown in batches. Transfer the meat to a bowl and set aside.

Add the sausages and jamon to the saucepan.

Sauté for 10 minutes, until the sausage's fat has rendered. Transfer the sausages and the jamon to the bowl containing the meats.

Add the onion, garlic and bay leaves to the saucepan and season with the salt. Sauté for 15-20 minutes, until the onions are very soft and starting to brown. Add the Piquillo Confit (or jarred roasted Piquillo peppers) and sauté 10 minutes, until their liquid has evaporated. (I left a little liquid)

Add the tomato frito and the reserved meats. Bring the Carcamusa to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for 15 minutes more (I simmered for about 30 minutes) until the meat is soft and cooked through. Add the peas and warm through, then remove the stew from the heat and serve warm with crusty bread pieces.

For the Piquillo Confit Peppers

In a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S blade, combine 1/4 of the peppers, the oil the honey and the salt. Blend or process on high, scraping down the sides, until the confit mixture becomes liquid. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 250F (120C).

Arrange the remaining peppers in a baking dish. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Pour the confit liquid over the top. Cover with foil.

Bake the peppers for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature. Serve Warm.

For the Tomato Frito

Make a sofrito - In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil for 4 minutes, until just rippling but not smoking. Add the onions and garlic and season with the salt. Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft but have not taken on color.

Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut up the tomatoes into rough pieces. If you are using fresh tomatoes, chop them roughly.

Raise the heat to high. Add the tomatoes and season them to taste with the sugar, salt and black pepper. Fry the tomatoes in the sofrito for 5-10 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring frequently for 30-40 minutes until most the water has cooked out of the tomatoes. Remove from the heat.

Process the mixture through a food mill with a fine screen (if you don't have one you can use a chinois or other fine strainer) into a large mixing bowl. If necessary, repeat until the puree is smooth. Taste the sauce and re-season as necessary with salt and black pepper.

If using the Tomato Frito immediately, transfer to a large food safe container and set aside to cool at room temperature. Cover and chill the sauce overnight. The Tomato Frito can also be canned in sterilized containers.


The Piquillo Confit is delicious with grilled meats and poultry, should you find the fresh peppers and decide to prepare the confit.

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