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California Olive Ranch

Karista's Kitchen Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Winter Roasted Beet Salad

roasted beet salad with gorgonzola and candied walnuts

Winter Roasted Beet Salad

You may be surprised to learn that beets haven’t always topped my favorite veggie list.  It wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve completely embraced this lush red or golden root veggie.  My favorite method of consumption?  Roasted.  Roasting brings out the sweetness in most vegetables but especially root vegetables like carrots, parsnips and beets.

Often I’ll bring home 2 or 3 bunches of local beets, clean them, roast them and store them in the frig.  When I need a quick side or salad, voila!

roasted beet salad with gorgonzola and candied walnuts

This salad is easy to prepare with ingredients that can be prepped in advance.  Not only is it delicious, it looks like art on a platter.  Which makes this the perfect holiday or winter salad.

I’m keeping this post short and sweet today.  Tank hasn’t had his morning run and he’s sitting at my feet staring at me with his “please take me for a walk” look.  And really, who could resist those terrier eyes.

Wishing you all things merry and bright this holiday season!

Loads of Love,


Winter Roasted Beet Salad

Serves about 6-8


About 6 medium size red or gold beets (or a mixture of both)

1 – 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 – 1 cup good quality crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (Rogue Creamery and Salemville have nice mid-range rice options that are quite delicious)

1/2 cup chopped candied walnuts (found in most markets, especially during the holidays.  However, I’ve given a quick recipe below)

Good quality Balsamic Vinegar (this is the time to break out the good stuff)

Good quality Olive oil, about 1/4 cup (I used California Olive Ranch Arbosana Extra Virgin Olive oil.  One word, divine!)


Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Wash the beets and trim just a bit.  Place in the center of a large piece of aluminum foil and wrap, tenting it a little.  Roast for about 45 minutes or until the beets can be pierced with a fork or knife.  I like my beets slightly undercooked, otherwise the texture tends to be a bit mushy.  So check them at 35 – 40 minutes.  Let the beets cool and then peel off the skins.  This is a colorful and messy job but well worth the effort.  If you are roasting the beets in advance, place the roasted whole beets in a Ziploc bag and pop them in the frig until they are ready to use.

Place the thinly sliced shallots in a small bowl and toss with a drizzle or two of balsamic vinegar.  I love the shallots marinated in the balsamic vinegar. Cuts the harshness of the shallot and adds extra balsamic flavor to the salad.  Let the sliced shallots hang out in the vinegar while you prepare the salad.

Slice the beets, not too thick, and layer them on a platter.  Dust lightly with a little sea salt.

Next, toss the marinated shallots over the beets.  Then sprinkle the beets and shallots with Gorgonzola and garnish with the chopped candied walnuts.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.  Serve immediately.

Option:  During the summer months, I add sliced or coarsely chopped cucumber to the salad for a little fresh, clean, crisp flavor.

Quick candied nuts

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Pinch of salt

In a heavy bottom pan over medium heat add the sugar.  Let the sugar melt.  Once melted, sprinkle the chopped nuts into the sugar and give it a stir.  Once the nuts look well coated pour them out onto wax paper to cool.  Sprinkle lightly with a pinch of salt.  Break with a knife or by hand.





Appetizers vegetarian

Caprese Rosemary Skewers

Caprese Rosemary Skewers

Caprese Rosemary Skewers


Summer has arrived and alfresco dining has begun!  I’m loving these seasonal appetizers that help me use the abundance of rosemary growing in my garden.

They’re also a delicious way to use summer’s sweet cherry tomatoes.  Although if I have a bowl of cherry tomatoes sitting on the counter they don’t seem to last long.  A favorite snack for the Bennett Crew.

Beautifully arranged on a platter, drizzled with my favorite California Ranch Olive Oil and aged balsamic vinegar, and served as an appetizer or last course with a favorite summer cocktail or wine.  To complement this lovely little nibble, I place a basket of fresh Italian bread on the table, you know, to soak up the extra oil and vinegar .

A little announcement and the reason I’ve been a bit tardy about posting new recipes… we’re making a move.  Karista’s Kitchen is going to be a self-hosted website soon.  You will see a new look and much easier navigation.  New recipes coming with a more user-friendly method for printing recipes.  My super, duper fabulous web guy, Steve from SteveWare Labs is working hard, long and tedious hours to re-create Karista’s Kitchen.  It’ll be launching soon so I’ll keep you posted.

Enjoy the deliciousness of summer!

Loads of love,


Caprese Rosemary Skewers


Cherry Tomatoes

Small Mozzarella Balls

Sprigs of rosemary, preferably older rosemary so the sprigs are sturdier

Basil leaves, torn into pieces

Olive oil, I like the Arbequina from California Olive Ranch Olive Oil Company

Balsamic vinegar, preferably aged


Remove leaves from the rosemary stalks, leave just a sprig of leaves at the top for decoration.

Skewer the rosemary, alternating with cherry tomatoes, torn basil leaves and mozzarella balls.  Once they are all skewered, drizzle with good quality balsamic vinegar or glaze and then with the olive oil.  Sprinkle with a little sea salt and serve.


Beef Grilling Karista's Kitchen

Tuscan Grilled Rib-eye

Tuscan Grilled Rib-eye with Rosemary and Garlic

The sun is slowly setting, gradually creating a luminescent twilight.  With twilight comes the warm fragrance of fresh and earthy rosemary, combined with the spicy knowing scent of simmered garlic in the freshest of olive oil.

Two perfectly grilled rib eye steaks bask in the fragrant and luxurious liquid.  With just a moment of time, the tender and flavorful beef will be infused and ready to serve with the deepest ruby-red Cabernet Sauvignon.

We dined in silence, Ranger Craig and I.  Savoring every bite, savoring every sip, and feeling as if we’d been transported to a grassy knoll on a Tuscan hillside.

There is something magical about simplicity.  A Tuscan grilled rib-eye and a glass of Rocca Family Vineyards newest release, the 2009 Collinetta Cabernet Sauvignon.  A brilliant red, big without being too bold, velvet to the tongue and elegant to the senses.

I was elated to discover this lovely little vineyard on my last visit to Napa.  A small family vineyard with a beautiful story of passionate and sweet beginnings, transformed into world-class and award-winning wines.

A cool spring sunset, gastronomy at its most indulgent and a brilliant wine.  For just an evening, life was simply perfect.

Tuscan Grilled Ribeye

Serves 2-4


2-4 bone in beef ribeyes

Extra virgin olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch)

Sea salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary

3 medium cloves garlic, thin sliced


Set out the steaks while pre-heating a charcoal or gas grill, preferably around 400F.

Brush steaks with a little oil and then season with sea salt and pepper.  Place on the preheated grill and cook to desired doneness.

While steaks are grilling, in a small pan on low heat gently warm ½ cup olive oil, rosemary and garlic.  Do not boil; just gently warm for about 5 minutes.

Pour the warm herbed and garlic oil into a large baking dish.  When the steaks are done, immediately transfer the steaks to the oil.  Coat each side of the steaks and let them sit in the oil for about 5 minutes.

Serve immediately topping each steak with the herbed, garlic and steak jus oil.  A fresh salad of spring greens topped with Smokey bleu and candied hazelnuts is the perfect complement to the steaks.

Serve with the 2009 Collinetta Cabernet Sauvignon from Rocca Family Vineyards

*This is not a sponsored post.  I just wanted to share my love and heartfelt enthusiasm of Rocca Family Vineyards wine and California Olive Ranch Olive Oil.

Appetizers Sassy Side dishes Soup

Spicy Gazpacho

Spicy Gazpacho

It seems chilled soups have made a comeback this summer and I must say I’m smitten.  I’ve always been a fan of the room temp or chilled concoction, mostly because that’s when fresh ingredients taste strongest in flavor.

Fresh and Spicy Summer Gazpacho

Maybe that’s why I can’t get enough of this Gazpacho.  I make a batch every week and serve it as a starter or lunch.  Full of incredible summer flavor and kissed with a touch of my new favorite olive oil.


I first discovered this lovely oil at my local co-op market, PCC Natural Markets.  I immediately fell in love with the pure, clean and fresh flavors of California Olive Ranch Olive Oil, using it in all my vinaigrettes, drizzled over veggies, Crostini and Bruschetta.

To my savory and sweet surprise, a few weeks after my discovery I was invited to a California Olive Ranch Olive oil tasting.  The tasting was hosted by Janelle Maiocco, brilliant local food blogger and Chef at Talk of Tomatoes, and the lovely Kristen Wanket from California Olive Ranch.

A completely delightful, delicious and most educational evening held at our local Seattle FareStart.  I left the tasting armed with a wealth of olive oil knowledge and a new favorite CA Olive Ranch Olive oil, the Arbequina.  Oh yes, this is now my ultimate favorite olive oil.

So divine I had to come up with this Gazpacho recipe as another excuse to use my new favorite and cherished olive oil.  🙂

All the California Olive Ranch olive oils are divine, but the Arbequina, “high fruitiness, balanced pungency and pleasing clean taste with flavors of tropical fruit and fresh artichoke”  won my culinary heart.

Thank you Janelle and Kristin for a most delicious evening!

Spicy Gazpacho

Serves 4 as a main dish or 8 as an appetizer


2 -3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

1 small green pepper, coarsely chopped

½ cup diced cucumber (or more if you love cukes!)

½ red onion, coarsely chopped

1-2 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs (thyme, oregano, Italian parsley, basil)

Dash of hot sauce (I like Sriracha, an Asian hot sauce)

2-3 tablespoons champagne or sherry vinegar

Squeeze of lemon juice

1 cup veggie broth

2-3 cups tomato juice

½ cup fresh bread crumbs

¼ cup California Olive Ranch Arbequina Olive Oil

Salt and pepper to taste


In a food processor add the fresh tomatoes, green pepper, cucumber, onion, fresh herbs, broth, 2 cups tomato juice, 2 tablespoons vinegar, dash of hot sauce and squeeze of lemon.

Pulse until all ingredients are nicely blended but not completely pureed.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add additional tomato juice, vinegar and lemon as desired.  I like my Gazpacho a little more drinkable rather than spoonable.

Next stir in the bread crumbs and a few tablespoons of the olive oil.  Ladle into glasses or bowls and garnish with an additional drizzle of olive oil, cucumber slices and toasted Crostini for dipping. 🙂

Appetizers Kid Friendly vegetarian

Bruschetta Open Face Sandwiches

Bruschetta Open Face Sandwich

The word “sandwich” is rarely used in my house.  Especially if you’re referring to something that’s being served for dinner.  “That’s lunch food” as my little gal would say.

However, on warm summer evenings I love to prepare an assortment of giant open faced Bruschetta sandwiches.  A traditional Bruschetta is a must of course.  I can’t resist those beautiful and sweet summer tomatoes.

Asparagus and Proscuitto Bruschetta with Arugula Pesto

And I can’t forget all the delicious spring and summer asparagus.  I was completely beside myself last week when I saw the beautiful local organic spring asparagus in the market.  I absolutely had to purchase a few pounds.  Once I got home with my stash, I needed to think of a new and creative use for my three pounds of delicious asparagus.  Behold, an asparagus and prosciutto Bruschetta was born.

Two divine giant Bruschetta sandwiches that burst with intense flavors and satisfy even the hungriest diner. (Even if my little gal thinks a sandwich is for lunch!)

Bruschetta Open Face Sandwiches

Tomato, Mozzarella and Fresh Basil with a Balsamic drizzle


1 large loaf Rosemary Garlic or French Artisan Bread

2 large vine ripe or heirloom tomatoes, sliced

1 large mozzarella ball, sliced

¼ cup fresh chopped basil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (my fave is California Olive Ranch Everyday Fresh EVOO, light, fragrant, clean and fresh)

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

2 cloves garlic, halved


Slice the artisan bread into 1-2 inch thick slices.  Brush or drizzle each slice with olive oil.  In a skillet over medium heat and add the bread slices.  Toast on each side, adding additional olive oil if needed.  You can also toast the slices in the oven at 350F or under the broiler (but watch carefully as they burn quickly!) until each side is golden brown.  As soon as the bread slices have been pan toasted, rub each piece with the halved garlic.

Transfer the toasted bread slices to a platter and top each with a tomato slice, and then a slice of mozzarella.  Drizzle each Bruschetta with a little balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.  Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and then garnish with the fresh basil.

For a reduced balsamic glaze, heat ½ cup balsamic vinegar in a small pan over medium heat.  When the vinegar comes to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and let the vinegar reduce by half.  It will be a thicker, richer glaze for the Bruschetta.  Very yummy!

Asparagus and Prosciutto Bruschetta Open Face Sandwich


1 loaf Artisan bread (rosemary and garlic, French, etc.)

½ cup arugula or basil pesto (can be store bought or homemade)

1 lb fresh asparagus, steamed, roasted or grilled

8 oz prosciutto, sliced

Shaved or shredded fresh parmesan or Romano cheese

Extra virgin olive oil from California Olive Ranch

Sea salt and fresh pepper


Slice the artisan bread into 1-2 inch thick slices.  Brush or drizzle each slice with olive oil.  In a skillet over medium heat and add the bread slices.  Toast on each side, adding additional olive oil if needed.  You can also toast the slices in the oven at 350F or under the broiler (but watch carefully as they burn quickly!) until each side is golden brown.

Transfer toasts to a platter and spread a teaspoon or two of pesto on each slice.  Add a layer of prosciutto and then top with 2-3 asparagus spears.  Drizzle each Bruschetta with a dash of olive oil, and sprinkle with a little sea salt and pepper.  Garnish with shaved or shredded parmesan or Romano cheese.  (if you want to use up the rest of the balsamic vinegar/glaze, drizzle a little over the asparagus, Yum!)