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Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad vegetarian

Grilled Romaine with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Grilled Romaine Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing // Karista's Kitchen

This summer has proven to be quite a diverse and eclectic season thus far.  My home has been filled to the brim with loveliness and laughter and blonde heads roaming the halls.  

My niece came to stay with us for a college internship and of course my two sassy gals had to be in the thick of things with her.  The girls have grown up together and are separated by two and half to three years each.  I used to call them my stair step kids.  My two girls, six years apart and my niece smack in the middle.  I tell her she’s my middle child.  She laughs her infectious laugh and then we all move on to reminiscing about when the girls were young and watch home movies of dances and plays they performed.

the girls

We spent weekends touring the state and showing our niece the beauty of Oregon and I had the opportunity to try a few new things – like riding the dunes and nearly losing my breakfast on those dunes.  We prepared loads of family meals, barbecues and baked goods and sat around the patio table or living room sofa discussing life, love, dreams, health and nutrition, because one cannot leave the Bennett house without a little discussion on health and nutrition.  We’re just a little weird that way. 😉

Our sweet niece went back to school for her summer quarter and we went back to summer weekends walking the beach (and missing her) and eating seafood to kayaking the alpine lakes in the mountains and stopping for barbecue on the way home.  Time spent together, adventuring, enjoying the outdoors and most importantly, dining together.

Life around my table is never short of interesting conversation, stories of times past or delicious food.  Life – just the way I like it.

Grilled Romaine with Sweet and Spicy Dressing // Karista's Kitchen

This lovely Grilled Romaine Salad has been on our summer menu for years.  I started grilling romaine years ago, as a way to get my girls to think the salad was a bit more special and therefore needed to be tasted.  I’d make my sisters sweet and spicy dressing (which I love!) and then top it with gorgonzola, bleu cheese or feta.  When my girls decided they loved goats cheese, I’d sub with goat cheese crumbles.  This Grilled Romaine Salad was served with dressing and cheese, or with dressing, sliced summer tomatoes and fresh cucumber with a sprinkling of cheese on top.  Sometimes I’d include grilled shrimp and make this a meal or crumbled bacon and make it just a bit more indulgent.

However, I served this grilled romaine salad, it was always a favorite way to enjoy our summer meals.

I adore sharing my recipes that represent not only precious times past but also lovely times present.  Food is the element that brings us to the table, where life is lived and memories are made.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Grilled Romaine with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Serving Size: 4-6

Grilled Romaine with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Ingredients

  • 2 -3 heads of romaine lettuce, cut in half lengthwise with root end still intact
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (1/4 cup for brushing, 1/2 cup for the dressing)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3-4 ounces bleu cheese, gorgonzola or feta, crumbled (or more if you love cheese)
  • Garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the grill to 350F, or heat a grill pan on medium high. Brush the halved romaine hearts with the 1/4 cup olive oil on both sides and then season with salt and pepper.
  • While the grill is heating, whisk together the garlic, onion, ketchup, mustard, sugar, vinegar, 1/2 cup of olive oil and the water. The dressing should be slightly pink. Add just a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
  • When the grill is hot place the halved romaine hearts cut side down on the grill.
  • Let the romaine halves grill for about 1 – 2 minutes and then turn the halves over and grill the other side of the romaine for another 1 – 2 minutes.
  • I like my romaine hearts just a little wilted with a bit of crisp still left in the romaine. Ranger Craig however, likes his romaine hearts a little more grilled and wilted. Feel free to grill them to your tastes.
  • Take the romaine off the grill and place on a platter. Sprinkle with crumbled cheese and then drizzle with the vinaigrette. Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley. Serve immediately.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Pasta Salad Sassy Side dishes

    Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

    Hawaiian Macaroni Salad with green onions, pickle relish, shredded carrots and cilantro // Karista's Kitchen

    Simply saying the word “summer” evokes some of the sweetest of memories.  Grilling outdoors with a cold beverage or tasty cocktail in hand, fresh fruit in abundance sitting on the kitchen counter, berry picking until our hands are bright red or purple, sweet cobblers and homemade ice cream, walking barefoot (my favorite!) and feeling the earth beneath my feet and of course Macaroni Salad.

    Summer just wouldn’t be summer without macaroni salad.

    I’ve made Grandma Eilene’s Macaroni Salad for years and my Bennett Crew adores this side dish.  However, recently I developed and photographed another very popular macaroni salad for my lovely clients, Home By Design Magazine.  Hawaiian Macaroni Salad.  Not surprising that it was a huge hit at my house.  I’d sampled versions of Hawaiian Macaroni Salad when visiting Maui a few years ago and I totally fell in love with this version of the quentisential American side dish.

    Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is still macaroni salad but it’s loaded with all sorts of delicious ingredients.  

    Hawaiian Macaroni Salad // Karista's Kitchen

    It’s quite heavy on the mayonnaise as well, which doesn’t bother me one bit because I love mayonnaise.  I love it so much I’m terrified we’ll run out so I keep two extra jars in the pantry at all times.  I also make mayonnaise on occasion and my homemade version is so absolutely divine in this salad. Using your favorite mayonnaise is key because mayonnaise plays a big part in flavoring this salad.

    I’ve recently discovered this mayonnaise from Thrive Market. My new favorite!  My youngest gal is allergic to canola oil, for reasons I won’t get into here unless you want me to stand on my non-GMO and Monsanto is bad soapbox. 😉  So I’m always looking for a tasty alternative mayonnaise to keep in stock.  On occasion I can find this at my local market but most of the time I purchase through Thrive Market.  This online market is such a convenient option for all your healthy pantry items, not to mention many of the items are priced less at Thrive Market than at my own market.

    No kickbacks or payment for this mention, I just wanted to pass on my fun and fabulous find!   I still support local as much as possible. While were on the subject of supporting local… I love Barn2Door for my other local and regional ingredients.  Clean, sustainable food right from the people who grew it! 

    Now that we’ve chatted mayonnaise and markets, I’ll get back to the rest of the salad ingredients.  I include shredded carrots, cilantro, sliced green onions, sweet pickle relish, sometimes shredded or cubed cheddar cheese, hard boiled eggs and avocado slices for garnish.  Loaded with flavor and texture, Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is a deliciously festive side dish for all our summer barbecues.

    Wishing you all a very happy and healthy summer!

    Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

    Serving Size: 6

    Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

    You’ve never had a macaroni salad quite like Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. Creamy, dreamy and filled with flavor, this salad is fresh comfort food at it’s best. Traditional Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is laced with a sizeable amount of mayonnaise. Personally, I adore mayonnaise and often make it at home. But if it’s not on your favorite ingredient list, feel free to adjust measurements.

    Ingredients

    • 1 lb macaroni pasta cooked according to package directions
    • 1 cup shredded carrots
    • ½ cup chopped cilantro
    • 4-5 hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped or sliced
    • ½ cup sliced green onions
    • 2 cups mayonnaise (adjust to taste)
    • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
    • 1 cup sweet pickle relish
    • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar (optional)
    • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
    • Avocado slices for garnish

    Instructions

  • In a large bowl, add the shredded carrots, chopped cilantro, hard boiled eggs and green onion to the cooked macaroni.
  • Then gently fold in the mayonnaise, white wine vinegar and pickle relish. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Let the macaroni salad sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving. This will help the macaroni absorb all the delicious flavors.
  • To serve, place the macaroni salad in a large serving bowl and garnish with avocado slices.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad Sassy Side dishes

    Italian Chopped Salad

    Italian Chopped Salad // the perfect spring and summer salad // Karista's Kitchen

    It feels so good to write today.  It’s been a busy few weeks and I’ve missed writing and posting recipes and all the deliciousness that comes with blogging.  I miss reading the comments and responding – and feeling like I have my very own secret food club of sorts. 😉

    So, today I’m back on the blog sharing one of the many salads I make for my family.  The Italian Chopped Salad.

    I first developed this Italian Chopped Salad for the lovely professionals at Home By Design Magazine.  It was published last year and although I’ve always meant to post it here, I think I forgot about it.  Until I made it just last week for the Bennett Crew.

    This salad is everything a salad wants to be.  Crunchy, crispy, spicy and flavorful, loaded with fresh romaine and radicchio for a lovely blend of greens and tossed with Italian salami, pepperocini’s, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts and mozzarella or  smoked provolone.  If I’ve got a few extra ingredients hanging around in the fridge just waiting to be used, I’ll toss those in too.

    Italian Chopped Salad // Karista's Kitchen

    A chopped salad is a salad in which all ingredients are fairly uniformly chopped.  Which makes the salad easy to dress and easy to eat.  There’s no need to use a knife to cut smaller bite sized pieces of lettuce greens or other veggies.  Just a lovely dish of evenly chopped vegetables dressed and ready to eat.  Chopped salads were über trendy a few years ago.  However, in my salad book, chopped salads have been in style for a very long time and I don’t see them trending down anytime soon.

    This Italian Chopped Salad is the perfect spring or summer entrée and it makes a festive side dish to homemade pizza or an Italian pork roast.  It’s one of those salads that is so completely lovely on a warm evening when dinner is served al fresco and the wine flows freely.   Can you tell I’m in summer mode? Even though the temps are back down to the high 60’s here, my summer heart (and palate) moves on.

    Cheers to the approaching warm weather, dinners on the patio, sunsets, chilled wine and Italian Chopped Salad!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Italian Chopped Salad

    Serving Size: 4-6 as an entree

    Italian Chopped Salad

    Ingredients

    • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • ¼ cup good quality balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 romaine hearts, chopped
    • 1 head radicchio, chopped
    • 6-8 ounces Italian dry salami, chopped or sliced
    • 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella, diced or the small bite sized Mozzarella balls called Ciliegine (you can also use 8 ounces smoked provolone, diced)
    • ½ cup pepperoncini peppers, stemmed and chopped
    • ½ - ¾ cup seedless kalamata olives, halved
    • ½ - 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
    • ½ cup diced or thinly sliced red onion
    • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn or sliced chiffonade
    • ½ cup diced cucumber (optional)
    • ½ cup diced marinated artichokes (optional)

    Instructions

  • Whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl gently toss together all the remaining ingredients. Just before serving, dress the salad with half of the vinaigrette, using more if needed. Lastly, season with a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Serve immediately.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad Sassy Side dishes

    Mango Avocado Quinoa Salad

    Mango Avocado and Quinoa Salad // So perfect for spring roasts or summer grilling // Karista's Kitchen

    I woke up at 3am the other morning thinking about Mango Avocado Salsa and how delicious it would be in a salad. Because honestly, I could eat Mango Avocado Salsa like a salad.

    And wouldn’t that salad be so fantastic if I added some quinoa and maybe greens?  Then I thought to myself how much you would love this salad!  So the next morning, I had to make it.

    It turned out just as tasty as I thought it would.  Quinoa, red onion, fresh cilantro, fresh mint, fresh parsley, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, a little pepper, avocado, mango and micro greens.  It. Is. Divine. 🙂

    Mango Avocado and Quinoa Salad // So perfect for lunch, brunch or summer grilling // Karista's Kitchen

    I had a little leftover yesterday and added it to baby spring greens and dressed it with some of my leftover honey mustard dressing and that was equally as delicious.

    I’ve listed the recipe below but truly, you can create this salad to your tastes.  Adding more greens or less onions, more avocado and less mango.  It’s a base recipe so have fun and create an enticing spring and summer salad that will be so fabulous for brunch, lunch or with spring roasts or summer grilling.

    Wishing you all a most marvelous weekend!

    Loads of love,

    Karista

    PS: Thank you all so much for your heart warming and thoughtful comments about my last post, My Lost Love for Social Media.  I adore you all and I feel so lucky to have such an incredibly lovely group of engaging readers!

    Mango Avocado Quinoa Salad

    Serving Size: 4

    Mango Avocado Quinoa Salad

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup quinoa, cooked to package directions (Einkorn or other ancient grain works well too)
    • 1/2 cup diced red onion
    • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
    • 1 lime juiced
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1-2 mangos, diced
    • 1-2 avocados, diced
    • Handful of micro greens
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Fresh baby greens, baby spinach or arugula if desired
    • Crumbled Cotija cheese, optional

    Instructions

  • Prepare the quinoa according to package directions and then let it cool.
  • Toss together the quinoa, onions, fresh cilantro, fresh mint, fresh parsley, lime juice and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Layer the salad on a platter or plate with the quinoa, mango, avocado and top with micro greens. Garnish with Cotija cheese if desired or serve the entire salad over a platter or plate of baby greens.
  • For a little extra dressing, whisk together 1 part lime juice with 2 parts olive oil and a dash of honey, salt and pepper. This makes a quick lime vinaigrette. Adding a little Dijon mustard to it is also nice.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Salad

    Apple Jicama Slaw

    Apple Jicama Slaw with a creamy apple cider vinegar dressing // Karista's Kitchen

    Crunchy, sweet, crisp and tangy, this Apple Jicama Slaw seems the perfect combination of flavors and textures.

    We eat a lot of salad and slaw at my house which sometimes challenges my salad making creativity, especially when I make a salad for almost every dinner meal.

    I adore using all sorts of fun and fresh ingredients for our salads and often they’re simply composed of whatever is left in the fridge and whatever is fresh on the counter.   And of course, whatever might be in season.

    This is definitely apple season and I have quite a few sitting on my counter.  I also keep jicama in the fridge for when my snack craving gets the best of me.  This oval-shaped root vegetable has a beautifully crisp and slightly sweet texture which makes it a great snack to reach for when you’re hungry.  If you’ve never tried jicama, it’s definitely worth the effort.  Slice away the rough brown exterior and you’ll find a creamy white flesh that is perfect for slicing and snacking, julienne or grated for salads, and in Mexico, you’ll find it served sliced, chilled, seasoned with salt, chili powder and lime juice.

    Apple and Jicama Slaw // Karista's Kitchen

    I created a mayonnaise based dressing for this Apple Jicama Slaw recipe, however, a yogurt base would be just as delicious.  For a non-dairy version, a lime vinaigrette with a hint of Dijon would also be tasty.

    I serve this salad a la carte for lunch or a light dinner and on occasion I’ll serve it with heartier fare, such as Cajun spiced shrimp or grilled or roasted chicken.  I also serve this Apple Jicama Slaw with my Slow Roasted Mexican Pork Tacos –  for taco perfection!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Apple and Jicama Slaw

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Apple and Jicama Slaw

    Ingredients

    • 1 head of Napa Cabbage, halved and sliced into shreds
    • 2 cups grated or julienned jicama
    • 2 cups thinly sliced apples
    • 1 handful cilantro, coarsely chopped
    • ¾ cup mayonnaise
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons of sugar
    • 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, sugar and apple cider vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Place the cabbage and jicama in a large bowl and lightly toss with some of the dressing.
  • Pour the dressed cabbage and jicama onto a platter or in a serving bowl and then top with the thinly sliced apples and chopped fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.
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    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!

    Karista

    Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Plum Sauce

    Serving Size: 6-8

    Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Plum Sauce

    Ingredients

      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

    Instructions

    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 Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad vegetarian

    Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad



    Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad

    I’m in salad mode these days and this gorgeous Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad is my obsession as of late.

    I’m harvesting a plethora of produce from my garden and what I didn’t grow or can’t grow, I’m finding at our local farmer’s market and farms around the valley.  I feel like a kid in a candy store!

    My arugula grew beyond my expectations and my Swiss Chard is still going strong, which makes me super happy.  Swiss Chard is my favorite leafy green; I adore it for it’s peppery bite and it’s a bit more hearty when sautéed.  It makes the loveliest fillings for morning omelets or frittatas and works well in my simple weeknight one dish meal of white rice, sliced green onions, sliced fresh mushrooms, diced roasted poblanos (optional) and ground Italian sausage for the Bennett Crew and a poached egg for me. 🙂

    Due to my exploding arugula, I’ve created more recipes to include arugula this year than ever before.  However, with the heat recently, I try not to turn on the oven, so this Roasted Fig and Arugula salad plus a grilled entrée is often served for dinner.  Actually, I can eat this salad without anything else, that’s how much I love it.

    Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad

    I roast the figs early in the day and then refrigerate them.  Or I’ll grill the figs if I get busy and forget to roast them.

    I dress the arugula with a honey balsamic vinaigrette, a pinch of salt and pepper and then layer with the roasted figs and crumbled goat cheese for the yummiest and most indulgent Roasted Fig and Arugula salad.

    Although it’s been a hot summer, it’s been a lovely summer.  Quick day trips to the coast and dining at my absolute favorite coastal seafood restaurant, Local Ocean Seafood in Newport, hikes in the mountains with Tank and a visit with my sweet family.  The best part of this summer?  No moves! I’ve moved the last two summers and it feels so nice to be settled and enjoying the season.  Even if it’s been brutally hot.

    I hope you’re enjoying your summer, staying cool and spending lots of time gathered around the table with family and friends.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad with Crumbled Goat Cheese

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Roasted Fig and Arugula Salad with Crumbled Goat Cheese

    Ingredients

    • 4-6 cups of baby arugula leaves
    • 1-2 pints fresh figs
    • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese (or more to taste)
    • 1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
    • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1-2 tablespoons
    • 2-3 tablespoons honey
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
  • Slice the figs in half and then toss with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
  • Place the figs in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until they are soft and a little caramelized.
  • Remove the figs from the oven and let them cool.
  • Whisk together the 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle a bit of the vinaigrette over the arugula and toss. Plate the arugula and then layer with the roasted figs, drizzling a bit more vinaigrette over the figs if desired, and then sprinkle with the crumbled goat cheese.
  • Serve immediately.
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    Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Grilled Summer Corn and Tomato Salad

    Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad with Sliced Red Onions and Fresh Basil // Karista's Kitchen

    This is the time of year I’m in food heaven. Summer produce is at its peak and it adorns my table with gorgeous color and delicious flavors, like this Grilled Corn and Summer Tomato Salad.  

    Most of the plants in my garden are ready to harvest, with the exception of the few plants that have suffered little critter attacks, the heat and my apparent lack of gardening knowledge.  I was so excited about my little strawberry patch, only to walk out one morning and notice tiny teeth marks on my sweet red berries.  Darn bunnies. 🙁

    I have a short list of plants I probably won’t attempt growing next year.  I have completely failed at sugar snap peas – and I love sugar snap peas.  Disappointment is looming.  I’m not sure what happened but I think I may have planted them in the wrong spot in the yard.  My knack for growing cauliflower never emerged this season… and then the white flies noticed the fledgling cauliflower hanging about and pretty much decimated what was left of the cauliflower crop.

    I’ve had a few successes however.  I am awesome at growing greens!  Which is great because we eat loads of greens in my house.  Bok Choy, Spinach, Swiss Chard and Collards are being harvested daily.  My spring lettuce flourished as did the arugula.  Tomatoes will be ready soon and the cucumbers are popping out everywhere.  Another huge success are the peppers, which is making Ranger Craig very happy.  He could eat peppers daily.  And of course my herb garden is overflowing with the most beautiful and fragrant herbs.  Ok, so I have somewhat of a green thumb.  I believe it may be more determination than an actual green thumb. 🙂

    Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad with Red onion and Fresh Basil in a Sherry Vinaigrette

    The one vegetable I do wish I’d grown in my garden this year is corn –  so I could make this Grilled Corn and Summer Tomato Salad straight from my garden.  

    Summer isn’t summer without corn. And well… potato salad, grilled ribs, grilled chicken, burgers, grilled stuffed peppers, macaroni salad and I could go on and on.  Maybe it’s the memories it evokes, noshing on corn on the cob with smears of butter on warm summer days, or watching my family dig into a bowl of this sweet corn and tomato salad.

    Grilled summer corn and tomato salad is a staple on our summer table.  

    It’s easy to prepare and it holds well in the fridge for up to 5 days.  Although it doesn’t last that long in my house.   Slightly sweet from the corn and a little tang of fresh cherry tomatoes combined with a little spice of sliced red onion and then topped with fresh and fragrant basil.  The simplicity of clean, fresh flavors shines through and is melded together by a little taste of char from the grilled corn.  Earthy, fresh, fragrant and most of all, delicious.

    Cheers to a delicious and fun-filled summer!

    Loads Of Love,

    Karista

    P.S. Having a little trouble with my print plugin but hopefully it will be fixed soon.  Thanks so much for your patience!

    Grilled Summer Corn and Tomato Salad

    Ingredients

    5-6 cobs of fresh summer corn, husks peeled and rinsed

    1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

    1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

    1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped chiffonade (Julienne)

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

    1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

    2-3 tablespoons sherry vinegar (start with 2 tablespoons and taste, if you need more add the extra tablespoon)

    Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

    Directions

    Pre-heat the grill to 400F.  Brush each corn on the cob with a little oil and then wrap each corn on the cob in aluminum foil and place them on the grill.  Note: Some people like to soak the corn on the cobs in water for about 10-15 minutes prior to grilling.  But if the corn is fresh and kernels look plump, this step won’t be needed. I don’t typically soak my corn prior to grilling unless its end of the season and the kernels look less than plump.

    Grill the corn for about 15-20 minutes, turning with tongs every five minutes to insure even cooking.  Once the corn is done, remove from the heat and let them rest for about five minutes.  Then unwrap the corn and let them rest another five minutes if they are too hot to handle.  Then scrape all the corn off the cob and place it in a bowl.

    To assemble the salad, gently toss together the corn, tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, chopped Italian parsley and basil.  Whisk together the olive oil and sherry vinegar and then gently toss with the vegetables.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    This salad is fabulous when it’s had about 30 minutes to sit on the counter at room temperature.  This will allow all those delicious flavors to meld together.  Place any leftover salad in a covered container in the fridge for up to five days.

     

     

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    Roasted Heirloom Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad


    Roasted Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad 2
    The month of June has been filled with a plethora of emotions.  Professional angst led the way with big decisions looming and changes on the horizon.  I had exciting but tough decisions to consider that made my focus narrow and kept my head buried.  That’s when life came to a screeching halt.

    We lost a beloved family member unexpectedly. And although this lovely lady led an adventurous and fulfilled life, it was heartbreaking to lose her.  We spent a week in my old stomping ground, sitting around the old wood table rehashing memories, sorting, giving things away and just when I thought there wasn’t a bright light to be seen, I stumbled upon an old friend that I haven’t seen since the age of 13.  We cried. We sat on sofas and visited, reminisced, laughed, shared stories of our children and remembered why we had been good friends.

    Before leaving the old stomping ground, Ranger Craig and I found the sweetest cafe that serves traditional food of the region.  Cuisine I know well, food from my childhood and adolescence, meals that hold memories.  Ranger Craig and I indulged in Fried Catfish, hushpuppies, coleslaw, chicken fried steak with white gravy, fried okra and sweet tea.  It was a feast!  We left with smiles on our faces and memories swirling in our thoughts.

    I returned home, washed clothes, took Tank to his favorite kennel and then headed to the airport for the second time in two weeks.  A family reunion was happening and I couldn’t miss it.  Exhausted but energized because I would see family that I haven’t seen in two years.  More tears, hugs and loads of chatter and conversation.  Nieces, nephew, brother, sisters, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and people I had no idea I was related to… all merging at my parents home for a celebration.

    The noise levels raised as the house and backyard filled with familiar faces, children’s laughter and larger than life characters with a penchant for comical relief.  Once again food was central around this celebration table.  We served my Mom’s favorite eggplant parmesan, a penne with a tomato cream sauce, lasagna Bolognese, caprese salad, Caesar salad and of course cake for dessert.  I don’t think we have a speck of Italian heritage but it seems to be one of my family’s favorite types of cuisine.  It feels comforting.  It feels like home.

    I’ve always identified with the familiar phrase “home is where the heart is”.  It seems a bit cliché sometimes, but it couldn’t ring more true this month.  I’ve left a piece of my heart in many places and with many people who I share memories and special moments.

    Once again, I find food to be a common denominator.  Much of life is lived around the table (or, at least mine is).  Sharing a meal and sharing time; creating memories.  Cementing emotions and eventually leaving a piece of my heart with the moment.

    We’re home now and I find myself missing my loved ones.  My twin sister and my brother who I feel so connected it would be hard to breathe without them.  My beautiful and loving sister-in-law who is the best sister-in-law in the world.  So much that I call her simply, my sister.   My precious kids. All of them. My own daughters, my nieces, my nephew – giving me so much joy in my life that my heart just might burst.  As my Auntie Ellen would say… they are completely delicious. 🙂

    I’ve gotten terribly mushy with this post. I try to keep these posts mostly about food but I couldn’t help myself today.  Although I don’t know each of you individually, I want to thank you for following Karista’s Kitchen.  Thank you for loving the recipes, for your kind comments and for using them to create your “life around the table”.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Roasted Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad with Marinated Mozzarella // Karista's Kitchen

    Roasted Heirloom Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad 

    Serves 4-6

    Ingredients

    1-2 pints cherry tomatoes or Heirloom cherry tomatoes

    1 container or 2 cups marinated mozzarella balls, cherry tomato size (ciliegine)

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    1-2 tablespoons aged, good quality balsamic vinegar

    1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (Julienne) or hand torn (save a little for garnish)

    Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

    Directions

    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

    Toss the tomatoes in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Transfer the tomatoes to a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast them in the oven for about 5-8 minutes or just until they are wilted.  You only want to bring the sugars (sweetness) out of the tomatoes so don’t leave them in too long or they will be too mushy.

    In a large bowl toss the marinated mozzarella with the fresh basil.  Then gently fold in the tomatoes and then pour onto a platter.  Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil on the salad and then the 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.  Season with another pinch of salt and pepper and then garnish with remaining fresh basil.

    Serve room temperature or slightly chilled.

    *This recipe was originally created for Home By Design Magazine

     

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    Summer Garden Panzanella

    Summer Garden Panzanella with Herb and Garlic  Croutons // Karista's Kitchen

    The scent of summer is laced in the warm evening breeze that’s floating through my open kitchen window.  A familiar seasonal scent that conjures visions of lush salads, grilled stone fruit, cherry pie and fresh made sangria.   Weekend evenings are spent shuffling between the garden and the kitchen, washing my fresh produce in preparation for dinner, while Spotify is playing softly in the background some of our new favorite summer music mixes.  Oh how I love these barefoot, slightly warm and breezy evenings.

    For pre-dinner festivities, I set out a little tray of Bruno’s Crostini and Chianti wine for sipping while Ranger Craig and I are mingling in the kitchen chatting, laughing, and making dinner.

    This evenings meal is simple and fresh.  A Summer Garden Panzanella Salad.  I call it a Summer Garden Panzanella because it’s not quite traditional in that it includes whatever is in season in my garden, along with the usual suspects of cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella.

    On occasion I’ll slow roast the tomatoes and peppers for a richer, sweeter flavor and sometimes I simply slice it up fresh and toss it all together; using any additional fresh herbs I might have on hand.  I think Panzanella is best when served fresh, however, I always toast my bread cubes so the leftovers hold well one more day in the fridge (If by chance we have leftovers).

    I’ve listed my basic recipe but you can certainly customize to your tastes.  Panzanella recipes can be found with all sorts of vinaigrettes, but I like it best with the traditional balsamic vinegar and olive oil with a splash of lemon.

    Cheers to walking around barefoot, chilled sangria, warm breezes, summer sunshine and all things delicious from the garden!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Summer Garden Panzanella

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Summer Garden Panzanella

    Ingredients

    • 1 loaf ciabatta, focaccia, or your favorite loaf, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
    • 1-2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 cup sliced fresh red, yellow or orange peppers (optional)
    • 1 cup baby asparagus tips (optional)
    • 1 cup sliced cucumber (optional)
    • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red or sweet onion (optional, for a little zing)
    • 1 container of small mozzarella balls (Bocconcini)
    • 1 large bunch of fresh basil, chiffonade or chopped
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • Squeeze of fresh lemon
    • Good quality aged balsamic vinegar
    • Good quality extra virgin olive oil
    • Grated parmesan for garnish

    Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 350F.
  • In a small saucepan gently heat the olive oil. When the oil is warm but not too hot, add the garlic and salute for one minute.
  • Toss the garlic oil over the bread cubes and then spread the bread cubes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for just about 5-10 minutes, until toasty but not too hard.
  • Remove the bread from the oven and sprinkle the cubes with a bit of salt. Your kitchen will smell so good by now!
  • While you are letting the bread cubes cool, assemble the salad.
  • Gently toss the fresh veggies with the basil and mozzarella and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and splash of lemon. Then toss in the bread cubes and drizzle the salad with vinegar and oil, tossing to combine. Serve with fresh grated parmesan.
  • You can serve the salad immediately or let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Because the bread is toasted, this salad holds well.
  • Notes

    Serve this salad as a lunch or light dinner or pair it with your favorite grilled fish, chicken, pork or beef.

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    Arugula, Spring Peas, Asparagus and Feta in an Herbed Vinaigrette

    Arugula, spring peas, asparagus and feta in an herbed vinaigrette // Karista's Kitchen

    My spring greens are wildly growing out of the garden boxes and it’s only mid-April!  Every morning Tank and I walk outside to preview the spring greens that have popped up or grown an inch overnight.  We fight with nagging slugs that are taking pleasure in dining on my Pok Choy and then we snip greens for salad and sautéing.  Tank pretends to be interested in my garden boxes but I’m not fooled; he only accompanies me outside to chase imaginary critters out of the back yard.

    This week it was all about pok choy and arugula.  Although some of the spinach found it’s way into breakfast.  I had so much arugula, I was making arugula, granny smith apple and hummus roll ups and this lovely arugula salad all week long.  I even ate it one morning for breakfast… with a fried egg on top. Delicious!

    Sal de Ibiza from Little Lace Box and Karista's Kitchen

    Spring produce is the first gift of the the growing season.  The bright green leafy produce have endless amounts of uses and can be combined with so many other delicious produce of the season.   Using these delicious greens should be effortless and simply prepared.  The flavors are so delightful, I wouldn’t want to overshadow them with additional heavy ingredients.  So I’ve kept this salad light and happy – dressing it with finely chopped fresh herbs from my garden, a splash of lemon, extra virgin olive oil, cracked black pepper and finished with a lovely Sal de Ibiza Fleur de Sel from Karista’s Kitchen Store.  A lovely spring salad for a lovely spring day.

    Wishing you everything beautiful and delicious in this spring season!

    Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Arugula, Spring Peas, Asparagus and Feta in an Herbed Vinaigrette

    Serving Size: 4

    Arugula, Spring Peas, Asparagus and Feta in an Herbed Vinaigrette

    Ingredients

      For the Salad
    • 2-3 cups arugula leaves
    • 1 cup baby sweet peas (thawed if using frozen)
    • 1 cup roasted or steamed asparagus
    • 1/2 cup feta cheese (I love to use Valbreso Sheep's Milk Feta on this salad)
      For the Vinaigrette
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice (about the juice from one large lemon)
    • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped basil
    • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped Italian parsley
    • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
    • Pinch of sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
    • Black pepper and sea salt to taste
    • Fleur de Sel to finish

    Instructions

  • Whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, chopped herbs and Dijon Mustard if using. Season to taste with black pepper and a little sea salt.
  • In a bowl, add the arugula, peas and asparagus. Toss the greens with some of the vinaigrette (to your taste) and then plate the salad onto 4 salad plates or one large platter.
  • Sprinkle with Fleur de Sel and then garnish with Feta Cheese. Serve immediately.
  • Notes

    Sometimes I serve this salad as a lunch entree with brie or goat cheese on crostini, slightly warmed and toasted in the oven and then drizzled with honey.

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    Citrus and Arugula Salad with Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts

    Citrus and Arugula Salad with Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts // Karista's Kitchen

    There are moments, much to my children’s dismay, random musings come flying out of my mouth and I realize at that exact moment, most likely my young ladies etiquette training didn’t quite stick.  What would my Grandmother say?

    Yes, I had my very own GrandMama.  My paternal Grandmother was a proper lady and a stickler for manners. When I was very young, I would spend hours at her little pink house learning the fine art of a tea party, listening to fascinating stories about her ancestry, learning how to be a gracious hostess and how to sing opera.  We always had tea and toast (Grandmother’s substitute for English biscuits) and my sister, Grandmother and I would all take turns singing Grandmother’s favorite song, Que Sera Sera.  

    I was young when my Grandmother passed but she often pops into my thoughts, especially when I do something she wouldn’t approve; which sort of makes me giggle because I can just hear her “Tsk Tsk!”.  I always think of her when I watch Downton Abbey or when my daughters use the wrong cutlery at the table.  I’m not sure she would have cared for the world we live in today… but I think that’s why she charms me.  A character bigger than life, although she stood a scant 5 feet tall.  Living in times past, always regaling me with stories and tall tales that never ceased to amuse me.

    Little Lace Box

    I thought of Grandmother again this week when my Little Lace Box arrived.  Oh how she would have loved this box! The January Little Lace Box was curated around a theme they call “The Dining Car”.  The theme is to commemorate the beginning of the fifth season of Downton Abbey on PBS.  The box was curated on the notion of “practical vintage”.  The perfect mix of vintage, beauty and practicality.  I can honestly tell you it is the perfect mix of products for me.  Little Lace Box brings the designer to you in an online boutique and curated monthly box full of fabulous finds created by up-and-coming designers.  I love that this company highlights the work of new designers, artists, food artisans and many more.  This is what we all need when we’re starting the  long walk down our entrepreneurial path! A company that will believe in our work, our art and share it with the world.

    Little Lace Box

    I realize this is a recipe website but I adore Little Lace Box so much I wanted to share it with you – along with a recipe of course.  A recipe that would have been approved by my Grandmother. She would have loved this salad.  So fresh, so lovely and on the prettiest little plate.

    One of the most fantastic things about working in my field is all the beautiful people I have the pleasure of meeting.   So many wonderful people who make a lasting impression on me and my work.  The lovely Carolina was our tour guide and historian for my DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience in 2103.  Yep, I’m still talking about that trip because it was so completely heavenly.  Carolina is not only beautiful on the outside, she is every bit as beautiful on the inside. I enjoyed every moment we shared, chatting about life, love, history, art, culture and of course food.  She shared with me this delectable salad that she often makes in her home.  I adapted it a tiny bit, adding the cheese, but it is just as lush and fresh and delicious with or without the cheese.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

    Karista

    Citrus and Arugula Salad with Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts

    Serving Size: 2-3

    Citrus and Arugula Salad with Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup assorted citrus wedges (grapefruit,mandarin oranges, blood oranges,etc)
    • 2-3 cups baby arugula leaves, packed
    • 1/3 cup feta cheese (or sub with goats cheese)
    • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
    • Drizzle good quality aged balsamic vinegar
    • Drizzle good quality extra virgin olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions

  • In a large bowl, toss the arugula with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  • Divide among 2 or 3 plates and then top with citrus and dust with feta cheese and toasted pine nuts.
  • Serve immediately.
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