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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,


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


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


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.



Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

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,


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

Roasted Heirloom Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad 

Serves 4-6


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


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


Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad vegetarian

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,


Summer Garden Panzanella

Serving Size: 4-6

Summer Garden Panzanella


  • 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


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.


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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Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad vegetarian

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,


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

Serving Size: 4

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


    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


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.


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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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

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,


Citrus and Arugula Salad with Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts

Serving Size: 2-3

Citrus and Arugula Salad with Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts


  • 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


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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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork Salad Sassy Side dishes

Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue

DaVinci Chianti at Home for the Holidays // Karista's Kitchen Southern Style Barbecue

There are a few things I’m terribly traditional about.  A birthday dinner of choice on one’s actual birthday, ghost shaped pancakes on Halloween morning, pan seared beef tenderloin medallions with a Madeira wine sauce on Valentine’s Day and a Southern style barbecue around the holidays.

Barbecue might seem a little out of place during the holidays, but at my house it’s a yearly tradition.  Mostly because my family loves barbecue and could dine on it year round.  The cooler holiday months also seem like the perfect time to capture a bit of summer whimsy within these festive dishes.

Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue // Karista's Kitchen

Succulent and bursting with flavor, I pair a Southern style pulled pork with my DaVinci Chianti BBQ Sauce.  A slightly sweet and tangy sauce laced with my favorite Chianti wine.  With aromas of ripe plum and cherry accented by peppery notes, DaVinci Chianti is a medium bodied and well balanced wine; blending beautifully into a most lush and silky sauce.  It’s so delicious, my family will wrangle for the last drop of sauce.  You just might be tempted to lick your plate!

Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue // Karista's Kitchen

Although I like a traditional coleslaw, for this meal I serve an elevated slaw of Apple, Fennel and Napa Cabbage, which is lightly tossed in a sweet dressing.  Along with the Southern style pulled pork, lush Chianti barbecue sauce and Apple Fennel Slaw, I also serve a delicious dish of homemade Baked Beans to round out the meal. After all, it’s not a barbecue without the beans.

To celebrate our holiday barbecue, the table is set with holiday china while the music of the season fills the room. Our guests are seated, the Chianti is poured and our Southern style barbecue is served.

Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue // Karista's Kitchen

It’s a festive occasion that feels special, and yet, warm and inviting with the enticing scent of earthy and rich flavors filling the house.  I love to hear the clink of glasses filled with the deep ruby colored DaVinci Chianti which pairs so perfectly with this holiday meal.

When the dishes are empty and the last of the Chianti has been poured, it’s almost difficult to leave the table, lingering over conversation and a celebration of all that is most precious to us.

Chianti at Home for the Holidays with Southern Style Barbecue // Karista's Kitchen

This is a festive meal to serve for any holiday celebration. The recipes can be doubled to accommodate a large crowd and are fairly fuss free to prepare.  The baked beans can be prepped a day or two in advance and slider rolls or large barbecue buns can be served with the pulled pork, making for a lovely casual dining atmosphere or a sit down dinner.

Cheers! to a most delicious and happy holiday season.

Bon Appetito!


Southern Style Pulled Pork with Chianti Barbecue Sauce

Serves 6-8


4-5lbs boneless pork shoulder, halved


¼ cup dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½  teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon ground allspice

½ cup apple cider vinegar

Slow cooker


Pre-heat a slow cooker on high.

Mix together the brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and allspice.

Season the two pork shoulder pieces with salt and then brown on all sides.  Transfer the pork pieces to the slow cooker and season with the brown sugar mixture. Making sure to cover both pieces of pork.  Pour the apple cider vinegar over the pork pieces, cover with the lid and turn the heat to low.  Cook on low for about 7-8 hours or until the pork pieces are fork tender.

Tip: When using a slow cooker to prepare a pork shoulder or beef chuck, it isn’t necessary to have a lot of liquid as the slow cooker allows these cuts of meat to cook in their own juices.

Once the pork shoulder is done, shred with two forks and keep moist with juices from the slow cooker.

Option: If you’d like, add a ¼ – ½ cup of the Chianti BBQ sauce to the pulled pork and serve with additional sauce on the side.

Serve with barbecue buns or slider buns, Apple Fennel Slaw and Homemade Baked Beans. And don’t forget the Chianti!


Chianti Barbecue Sauce

Serves 6


2 cups organic ketchup

1 cup DaVinci Chianti wine

3 teaspoons dry English mustard

¼ cup dark brown sugar

¼ cup unsulphured molasses

3 tablespoons Worcestershire

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


In a medium sauce pan over medium low heat stir together the ketchup, wine, mustard, brown sugar, molasses and Worcestershire. Bring it to a simmer, turn the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes.  Take the sauce off the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar.

Because I like to use this sauce in my Homemade Baked Beans recipe, I usually double the recipe. It’s a travesty when I run out of sauce!   However, feel free to use a barbecue sauce of your choice in the Homemade Baked Beans recipe.

Serve the Chianti Barbecue Sauce with Southern Style Pulled Pork, Apple Fennel Slaw and Homemade Baked Beans. The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week. 


Apple Fennel Slaw

Serves 6 -8


One medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced or shredded and fronds saved

1 head of Napa cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded

2 cups shredded apples, or thinly sliced apples and spritzed with a little lemon juice

1 cup mayonnaise

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup sugar

Dash of hot sauce, optional

Salt and pepper to taste


Whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and sugar until well combined.  Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Set aside until ready to serve.

Gently toss together the fennel, cabbage and apples.  Chop the fennel fronds and toss them on top of the slaw.

Dress the slaw with half the dressing, using more if needed, just before serving.

Serve with Southern style pulled pork and baked beans. 


Homemade Baked Beans

Serves 6-8


4 ounces bacon, diced

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 15ounce cans navy beans, drained

1/2 cup Chianti Barbecue Sauce, or a barbecue sauce of your choice

1 small onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire

¼ cup molasses

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Medium to large baking dish


Heat the oven to 350F.

Heat a large skillet and cook the diced bacon.  Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to a dish and set aside.  Add a little olive oil if needed and sauté the onion.  When the onion is golden and soft, add the garlic and sauté another minute longer.  Add the bacon back into the skillet and stir in the beans.

Stir in the one cup of barbecue sauce, Worcestershire, molasses, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar.

Pour the beans into a baking dish and bake for about 30-45 minutes or until the beans are hot and bubbly.

Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad vegetarian VRAI Magazine

Blueberry and Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese and Toasted Walnuts

Blueberry Spinach Salad with Goats Cheese and Toasted Walnuts

There are loads of fun and exciting things happening at VRAI Magazine, besides this delish recipe of course.

VRAI Magazine is designing our first ever digital issue for the holiday season.  We are so excited about all the fabulous stories, recipes, travel, DIY, Fashion and lifestyle articles all surrounding the holiday season.  We’ve launched a Kickstarter video and we’d love your support!  Click  HERE and check out the video.  You’ll get to see and hear from all of us.  Including a snippet from Moi. 🙂

VRAI Magazine is also where you’ll find this lovely and seasonal salad recipe.  Click HERE for the recipe.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Appetizers Halibut Karista's Kitchen Salad Seafood VRAI Magazine

Peruvian Ceviche with Patacones

Peruvian Ceviche with Patacones // Karista's Kitchen Perfect for a summer evening!

The vibrant and colorful foods of South America beg to be tasted, savored and celebrated.  South America provides a garden of gorgeous and unique regional produce, oceans of seafood, tropical fruits that remind us of sunshine and summer; and spicy flavors that feel festive and indulgent.

Peruvian Ceviche with Patacones // Karista's Kitchen

I’m so excited about the newest issue of VRAI Magazine!  Head on over to snag this fantastic summer recipe, Peruvian Ceviche with Patacones; and while you’re there, stay a while and browse.  VRAI Magazine is evolving and I’m so proud to be working with the most amazing and talented team.

Check out the “Getting to Know” page to find out more about all the amazing and talented people behind this fabulous magazine.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,



Karista's Kitchen Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Cucumber Greek Salad

Cucumber Greek Salad with Herbed Feta, Olives, Red Onion and Fresh Mint

I can’t eat enough salad these days.  Maybe it’s the weather or maybe it’s all the beautiful produce at the Farmer’s Market and my Co-op – quietly taunting me with brilliant shades of summer color and fresh earthy scents as I slowly meander by.

Salad is a lovely way to enjoy the warmer months.  No need to turn on a stove top or oven, fresh ingredients that are easily prepped and assembled and can be as fun and festive or as traditional as you desire.

Cucumber Greek Salad with Herbed Feta, Olives, Red Onion and Fresh Mint

I keep an assortment of vinegar and olive oil in my pantry for a quick dressing.  Don’t worry about getting to fancy or spending a lot of time making the dressing.  Just a dash of your best olive oil and favorite vinegar with a pinch of salt and pepper will do.  Get a little wild and purchase a champagne, pinot noir or sherry vinegar or high quality flavored vinegar to keep on hand for all your summer salad creations.

This enticing Cucumber Greek Salad was inspired by the traditional Greek salad that we all know and love.  I makes a lovely light lunch or paired with grilled salmon for the loveliest of summer al fresco dining.  Divine.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Cucumber Greek Salad

All the ingredients are approximate.  Feel free to adjust to your taste preference.  Sometimes I load the salad with olives and sometimes I keep it simple with just a few.  Let your taste buds be your guide.

Serves 4


2 large cucumbers, peeled or partially peeled and sliced about 1/8 inch slices.

1/2 cup pitted assorted olives (I like using stuffed green and pitted kalamata olives)

1/2 cup small diced or crumbled herbed or marinated feta cheese

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/4 cup coarsely chopped or torn fresh mint leaves

Optional: Cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

Salt and pepper

Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Drizzle of sherry, champagne, red wine, pinot noir or balsamic vinegar


Layer the cucumber on a platter or in a large serving bowl.  Next layer the olives, then the feta cheese, next the red onion and then last, top with the fresh mint.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with vinegar and olive oil.

I love this served on a large platter but if you prefer, put all the ingredients in a bowl and toss with the olive oil and vinegar.  Garnish with extra chopped mint.






Karista's Kitchen Salad vegetarian

Butter Lettuce Wedges with Green Goddess Dressing

Butter Lettuce Wedges with Green Goddess Dressing / Karista's Kitchen

Do you remember this blast from the past?  Green Goddess Dressing.  My Mom used to serve this dressing with our dinner salad at least once a week.  As a kid I thought it was such a peculiar name for a salad dressing and I remember I liked to say “Green Goddess” as if it were some magical word that might turn me into a super hero.  Yes, those were the days I was watching Electra Woman and Dyna Girl on Saturday mornings.  Ah… the mind of a child.

Butter Lettuce Wedges with Green Goddess Dressing / Karista's Kitchen

Today, the dressing doesn’t quite hold the same meaning for me – but it’s still magical to my taste buds.  Although this dressing is prepared with a mayonnaise and sour cream base, it’s rather light with fresh lemon and assorted fresh herbs, garlic, intensely flavored anchovies and of course the crowning glory of my version of this lovely dressing, avocado.  Whipped up into a lovely pastel colored dressing for greens, vegetables, salads, shrimp and fish.

I adore Oregon pink shrimp, the small bay size shrimp, and if I have them stocked in my frig, I’ll toss those over the top as well.   And on occasion, I’ll slather it on toast and then proceed to make myself a summer tomato and avocado sandwich.

Wishing you all Loads of Love and Delicious Wishes!


Butter Lettuce Wedges with Green Goddess Dressing


1 ripe medium avocado

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

2 anchovies

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (I like Italian parsley, basil, oregano and chive)

1/4 cup fresh chopped chive for garnish

Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Sprinkling of diced cooked bacon (optional)

Bay Shrimp (optional)

Avocado slices

lemon wedges


Place in a blender or food processor the avocado, mayonnaise, sour cream, anchovies, lemon juice, fresh herbs and garlic clove. Puree until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Serve over fresh butter lettuce wedges and garnish with chopped fresh chive, avocado slices and lemon wedges.  For a heartier meal I love sweet bay shrimp tossed onto the butter lettuce wedges or diced cooked bacon.

This dressing is also lovely over mixed greens, grilled romaine or romaine wedges.

Karista's Kitchen Salad Seafood

Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos with DaVinci Chianti

Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos with Radish and Cucmber Salad and DaVinci Chianti

By choosing to click and read this blog post, you confirm you are of legal drinking age in the country where this site is accessed.

“DaVinci wine is created in a magical place.  Tuscany; a treat for the eyes as well as the palate.  The air smells of sweet, sun ripened grapes and fresh herbs –  all muddled with the earthy scent of mineral rich soil”.

These were the first words I wrote the day I arrived at the Casale Leonardo da Vinci Villa in Vinci, Italy last fall.

Never have I been so enamored with a landscape; and enchanted by the people who inhabit it.

Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos with Radish and Cucumber Salad and DaVinci Chianti

On a warm summer day last August, 2013, my daughter and I had loaded the last of our belongings into the car.  I walked back down the little gravel path and stood in the entry doorway, giving my home once last glance – then closing and locking it one last time.  We were moving to Oregon.  Bittersweet.  Trying to hold back the tears as we looked back at the house we had called home for 12 years.  My daughter, being a brave soul, reassured her Mom that it would be ok. “We aren’t moving that far away” she said.  I smiled.

Then I said, “this is the beginning of a new adventure”.

And it was.

Just as we crossed the Washington Oregon border my phone rang.  Thankfully, my teenage daughter was driving so I answered the call.   A lovely lady announced to me that I had been selected the 2013 Culinary Arts DaVinci Wine Storyteller.  I remember asking the lovely lady to repeat what she had said.  The only words that would escape my lips was “really?” “I never win anything!” And then of course, thanking her profusely for delivering the most fantastic news.

This time I really was in tears.  So excited, so honored to have been selected to represent the culinary arts for DaVinci Wine Storyteller Experience 2013.

DaVinci Chianti with Radish Cucumber Salad 4

Radish Cucumber Greens with Spicy Crema and DaVinci Chianti

It was a grand adventure.  Looking back and reading my second journal entry I recall the swells of emotion. “The beauty of Tuscany mirrors the beauty of its people and its food”. “A culture rich with history and laced with passion. A passion that transcends all boundaries and flows effortlessly onto the family table”.

The 2014 Storyteller Experience is under way and DaVinci Wine is once again looking for the best storytellers in culinary arts, photography, writing, fine arts and more.  Bloggers and creative storytellers of all kinds can now apply.   Grab a pen, warm up the typing fingers, “Like” the DaVinci Facebook page and go fill out the application.  The deadline is May 31, 2014.   Twelve finalists will be chosen and then voted on by DaVinci Wine Facebook fans to ultimately select the final four winners.

I’m excited just thinking about it! If you’d like to apply, click HERE.  Be sure to check out the winners from years past by clicking HERE!

The lovely folks from DaVinci Wine, who I adore, have asked me to share my Storyteller Experience and how I now create a little “Chianti at Home”.  Over the next few months, I will be pairing the DaVinci Chianti, Chianti Reserva and Pinot Grigio with recipes I serve at my family table.  Lush, enticing and mouthwatering recipes that pair perfectly with DaVinci Chianti here at Home.

Chianti at Home with Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos and DaVinci Chianti

The first of the “Chianti at Home” recipes is this flavorful and festive Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos.  Simply prepared and laced with fresh and spicy flavors of the season.  Although this is  technically a “seafood” taco, the delicate but firm and meaty texture of the Ahi tuna pairs beautifully with the DaVinci Chianti.

The subtle fruit notes and smooth texture of the Chianti compliments the fresh and spicy flavors of the radish and cucumber greens and crema, as well as the firm and meaty texture of the seared Ahi tuna.  If you’re looking for a complimentary white wine to pair with the tacos, the DaVinci Wine Pinot Grigio also beautifully compliments this lovely dish..  Flavors that balance, entice the palate and compliment DaVinci Wines.

Celebrate the Spring and Summer seasons by bringing a little Chianti to your Home!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


*This is a sponsored post by the lovely folks at DaVinci Wine


Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos with Radish Cucumber Greens and Spicy Crema

Serves 4 (can easily be doubled for guests)


1 ½ lbs Ahi tuna fillets, sushi grade (remove the tuna from the frig 15 minutes prior to cooking. This will allow the skillet to stay hot and quickly sear the tuna)

Salt and Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

2 tablespoons ghee/clarified butter (or another high heat oil)

For the Greens and Spicy Crema

2 medium radishes, thinly sliced

1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced

2 cups (or more if you’d like an extra side salad) mixed seasonal greens

½ crumbled Cotija cheese

¼ cup cilantro leaves (optional)

½ cup good quality mayonnaise

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon sugar or any other natural alternative (not honey however, as honey is more of a flavoring rather than a sweetener)

Dash of chipotle powder or Sriracha (both are delicious, however the chipotle powder gives a smoky flavor)

2 limes, quartered

Corn tortillas


In a small bowl mix together the dried oregano, ground cumin and paprika.  Season the tuna with salt and pepper and then rub the herb/spice mixture on both sides of the tuna fillets.

Next, heat a large heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat.  (A cast iron skillet works well for this recipe)  Add a few tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter) or any other high heat oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, place one tuna fillet in the skillet and let it brown.  About two minutes on each side.  You want both sides golden brown with a pink center.

Remove the tuna fillet and set it on a cutting board.  Repeat the process with the remaining tuna fillets.

Once the tuna is done, slice against the grain so the tuna doesn’t fall apart.  Set aside and prepare the greens.

Toss together the radishes, cucumber, mixed greens and cilantro leaves.  Season with a little salt and pepper and squeeze of lime juice.

Whisk together the mayonnaise, lime juice, sugar and chipotle powder or Sriracha.

Warm the tortillas in a steamer or wrap them in foil and warm them in the oven making sure they don’t dry out.  If you have a microwave, corn tortillas warm nicely in about 10 seconds in a microwave.

To assemble:

Place the radish and cucumber greens in the bottom of a tortilla and then top with a slice or two of Ahi tuna.  Drizzle with the spicy crema and garnish with cotija cheese.  Repeat the process and place the tacos on a large platter with the quartered limes to serve.

Serve with your favorite homemade salsa, guacamole, tortilla chips – and DaVinci Chianti.









Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Carrot Cilantro Salad with Pumpkin Seeds and Ginger Peanut Dressing

Carrot Cilantro Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing and Pumpkin Seeds

It’s Wednesday and it’s already been a whirlwind of a week.   I don’t want you to think I’ve forgotten you, so I thought I’d drop by and deliver this lovely little salad.  Truly, if you lived next door I’d bring you this salad. 🙂

Perfect with grilled shrimp or chicken for a busy weeknight, or a delightful and flavorful side for your grilling or slow cooked weekend.  Lush, gorgeous color and mouthwatering flavor.  A little summer sunshine on a plate.

Carrot Cilantro Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing and Sesame and Pumpkin Seeds

More deliciousness posting soon!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Carrot Cilantro Salad with Pumpkin and Sesame Seeds in a Ginger Peanut Dressing

Serves 4 – 6


4 cups shredded organic carrots

½ -3/4 cup cilantro leaves

¼ cup pumpkin seeds, raw or roasted

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, white or black


¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch Everyday Fresh EVOO)

¼ cup raw honey (I buy local raw honey)

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon creamy organic peanut butter

¼ -1/2 teaspoon of Thai Kitchen Roasted Red Chili Paste or a dash of Sriracha

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger (or more if you love ginger)

1 small clove garlic, peeled and smashed

A squeeze of fresh lime juice

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste Directions


Puree dressing ingredients in a small food processor or blender and then season to taste with salt and pepper.  If the dressing feels too thick, add a tablespoon of cold water.

In a medium to large bowl, toss together the shredded carrots, cilantro leaves and seeds.  Gently toss the carrot mixture with just enough dressing to coat the carrots.  You don’t want the carrots swimming in dressing.  Reserve remaining dressing for a marinade for shrimp or chicken, or another salad.

Pour onto a large platter and garnish with additional cilantro and seeds.

The salad ingredients can easily be adjusted to your tastes.  A little more red chili paste or hot sauce or a little less ginger, however you prefer.  Pair with grilled shrimp or chicken for a one dish meal.