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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.






Chicken Kid Friendly Pasta

Lemon, Fresh Basil and Chicken Fusilli Pasta

Lemon Basil Chicken Pasta

Lemon, Fresh Basil and Chicken Fusilli Pasta prepared with Jovial Brown Rice Fusilli

I learned how to Instagram this weekend.  My 14 year old is an Instagram Whiz and she thought I needed to add it to my repertoire of social media.

Oh Yay.  One more social media application to learn.

Lemon Basil Chicken Fusilli Pasta

Lemon, Fresh Basil and Chicken Fusilli Pasta

I haven’t even mastered Twitter yet.  With all the hatch tags and word limitations, I fail miserably at Twitter.  And then I just feel silly when I put something out into Twitter land and no one responds.  Hmmmm….   Maybe I didn’t say anything clever.

Jovial Brown Rice Fusilli

Jovial Brown Rice Fusilli

And don’t get me started with Pinterest.  That’s just pure addiction.

Once upon a time I tried to “Stumble Upon”.  It didn’t stick.  Currently I’m trying to Google +, but I think that’s the most confusing of all.  And because I don’t Google + all that often, some of my Google + friends/followers are dropping me.  Well that’s just sad. 🙁


Fresh Basil Chiffonade

As you can tell I have a love/hate relationship with social media.  And although social media has been a positive change in this world of ours, if not kept in balance, it’s exhausting.

So, maybe I won’t become a super social media Queen.  I’m ok with that.  I just ask that if you see me making not so clever comments out in Twitter land, please don’t leave me hanging. Maybe give me a shout out or something?  I thank you in advance. 🙂

Jovial Pasta

Jovial Einkorn Pasta

Although my love affair with social media has been short lived, I continue my love affair with Jovial Brand pasta.  The brown rice pasta is a favorite of The Bennett Crew and I especially love the Einkorn Pasta.  It’s nutty rich flavor and silky texture lends itself well to any type of sauce or pasta dish.  And it boasts 9 grams of protein per serving!

I prepared this fresh and vibrant tasting pasta dish with the Jovial Brown Rice Fusilli but it can be prepared with Jovial Einkorn Penne, Rigatoni or even the Spaghetti.  A fresh and fabulous summer dish that can be served warm or chilled. Paired with an Oregon Pinot Gris from A to Z Wineworks (one of my faves!) and dinner is complete.

Happy Summer and Loads of Love to you all!


Lemon, Fresh Basil and Chicken Pasta

Serves 4


¼ cup lemon juice, plus 1 lemon

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (or basil olive oil if you can find it)

Salt and pepper to taste (I like a little extra pepper in this vinaigrette)

1 bunch fresh basil (about one cup packed)

3 – 4 chicken breasts, roasted or grilled, and sliced or chopped

1 package Jovial Brown Rice Fusilli Pasta, cooked according to directions

1/3 cup crumbled feta ( I love Valbreso Sheep’s Milk Feta)

Quartered marinated artichoke hearts (optional)


Prepare the chicken and boil the pasta.

Chiffonade the fresh basil leaves.  I’ve got pictures of this below so you can see how it’s done.  Or feel free to check out this tutorial.

Whisk together the fresh lemon juice, minced garlic and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the pasta with the lemon vinaigrette, fresh basil and diced or sliced chicken.  Squeeze half a lemon over the pasta and lightly toss.  Season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.

Place the pasta in a serving bowl and garnish with the feta cheese.  Serve with extra lemon wedges and serve either warm or chilled.

This is a great make ahead meal and lovely served as a brunch, lunch or summer dinner.  Sometimes just for kicks I add in some quartered marinated artichoke hearts.  I love the Napoleon brand grilled marinated artichoke hearts. 

How to Chiffonade Basil

Fresh Basil

Stack a few basil leaves one on top of the other


Roll the basil lengthwise


Slice into ribbons

basil chiffonade

Your basil is now chiffonade. This can be done with any leafy herb or green.

Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly

Sweet Pepper Chicken

Sweet Pepper Chicken

As I’m desperately trying to write this post, Suzie Q (my youngest gal) decides to catch up on her shows.  It’s Saturday morning and I don’t have the heart to tell her to move the party downstairs to the less than fabulous television.

Sweet Pepper Chicken

This is what I get for parking myself, and my office, in the dining room.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  It has the most wonderful views of the mountains and it’s the most peaceful room in the house.

Until now.  I have no door, so I’m resorting to noise reduction headphones and Josh Bell’s Vivaldi.

Sweet Pepper Chicken

I think this morning however I’m more in need of some Miranda Lambert and the Pistol Annies.  But I can’t write when Miranda’s singing.

She makes me want to grab my spatula and hold a concert in my kitchen.  Not conducive to writing a food post.  So back to Vivaldi I go.

Peppadews from Divinia

Now that the television canceling music is in place, I can truly tell you I totally winged this recipe.  This dish was born out of my intense passion for peppadew peppers.  My compelling need to eat a few peppadews with my dinner.  Sounds crazy I know.

But sometimes I get fixated on a food and that’s that.  Nothing can be done.  Like the time I fell in love with Valbreso Sheep’s Milk Feta (actually, it’s in this recipe too).  I used Valbreso feta in everything I could think of.  I’d even sneak little bites straight out of the frig!  It’s my affliction.  I did the same two summers ago with fresh peaches from Eastern Washington.  I posted peach recipes for a month. 🙂

If you favor goats cheese crumbles over the feta, I say go for it! It’ll be just as tasty.  Enjoy this little dish while we wait for the spring produce to arrive 🙂

Sweet Pepper Chicken

Serves 4


4 – 6 chicken cutlets (these are thin cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts)

2 tablespoons of your favorite oil (I like coconut, grapeseed and olive)

1/2 cup sliced peppadew peppers found either in the mixed olive section near the deli or jarred in the pepper aisle… or cherry peppers (seeded)

1 leek, chopped (white part only)

1/2 cup feta cheese (I love Valbreso brand sheep’s milk feta; or goat cheese crumbles are delish as well)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano and/or Italian parsley

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup white wine

Salt and Pepper to taste


In a large skillet heat a little oil over medium high heat and pan sear the chicken cutlets on both sides until they are cooked through.  Cutlets should be “thin cut” and easily cooked stove top.  If you have a thicker cut of chicken breast, brown the chicken on both sides and then pop them in a 350F pre-heated oven to finish cooking.  Thicker boneless skinless chicken breasts shouldn’t take longer than 15-20 minutes cook time in the oven.

Once the chicken is done transfer to a platter and keep warm.  In a smaller skillet over medium heat, add the butter and saute the leeks until nicely wilted.  Add the garlic and fresh herbs and saute for about one minute longer.

Then add the white wine and let the wine simmer and reduce by half.

Take the leeks off the heat and fold in the sliced peppers.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle the leeks and peppers over the chicken and sprinkle with the crumbled feta.  Serve immediately.

Because this dish is so flavorful I serve it with roasted or steamed asparagus and a lovely saffron infused rice.