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

Food Segment on KATU Afternoon Live

Food Segment with Tra'Renee Chambers of Afternoon Live and Karista Bennett

I had so much fun yesterday! But I always have fun when I’m filming a food segment with Host Tra’Renee Chambers at Portland’s KATU Afternoon Live. 

I’m sure you can tell I was having a good time by the many expressive faces I made during the 7 minute segment. 🙂 I’ve been told I speak with my eyes. Ha!

Karista and Tra KATU 1 Karista and Tra KATU 2

Yesterday we cooked up my famous Pasta Cortona which is one of my favorite spring and summer pasta dishes. Check out the video HERE for a step by step tutorial on how to bring this lovely dish together. Let me know what you think! 

Sad news… someone has hacked my Instagram account. So if you follow me on Instagram, my account is down and I’m working hard to bring it back to life. We shall see. It’s not an easy fix apparently. 🙁 But you can still keep up with all the deliciousness on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. And here on the blog of course.

Wishing you a most delicious week!


Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta vegetarian

Spicy Pasta Puttanesca with Loads of Fresh Herbs

Spicy Pasta Puttanesca with Loads of Fresh Herbs

Summer is winding down and I find myself in a mad dash to use every last summer tomato I can get my hands on.  Which is absolutely why this spicy little pasta dish happened.

I whipped this up on the fly the other day, trying to use up all my baby tomatoes before they went bad.  Normally I can’t keep tomatoes around due to all the “tomato snacking” that goes on in my house.

Spicy Pasta Puttanesca with Loads of Fresh Herbs

Pasta Puttanesca is one of my favorite pasta dishes.  Onions, garlic, anchovy, a bell pepper from the garden along with a handful of chopped fresh summer herbs, salty capers and olives and last but not least, summer baby tomatoes.  All nicely sautéed and warmed in my favorite extra virgin olive oil and then splashed with a hearty handful of fresh grated parmesan.  For extra spice,  I sneak in a few sliced pickled jalapeno.

Ahhh… food just doesn’t get any tastier.

Spicy Pasta Puttanesca with Loads of Fresh Herbs

I’m going to miss the sweet little red beauties when they’re gone. I rarely purchase them out of season and only when my family feels they need a cherry tomato fix.  Hands down, fresh tomatoes taste best in summer.  However, in the fall and winter months I use organic canned tomatoes.  They’ve been canned at the peak of ripeness and infuse a sweet tomato flavor in the winter version of this dish.

During the winter months, I often fold in some cooked ground Italian sausage for a hearty one dish meal.

What I love most about Pasta Puttanesca is it’s many versions and interpretations swimming around recipe land.  Many chefs and home chefs prepare cherished versions of this dish.  It’s one of those lovely recipes that lends itself so beautifully to the variety of the season.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Spicy Pasta Puttanesca with Loads of Fresh Herbs

Pair this lovely dish with my fave DaVinci Chianti

serves 4-6


1 lb thin spaghetti or linguine, cooked according to package directions

1 small red onion, diced

1 small red, orange, purple or yellow bell pepper, thin sliced

3-4 anchovies

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 tablespoon sliced pickled jalapeno (or more to taste) or a pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes

1 heaping tablespoon of capers

Handful of assorted olives, sliced

Handful of fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Handful of fresh basil, chiffonade sliced

1-2 sprigs oregano, leaves removed and finely diced

1 pint cherry or baby heirloom tomatoes, sliced

2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.  I use California Olive Ranch Arbosana Olive oil

Squeeze of lemon

Handful of fresh grated parmesan cheese

Fresh cracked black pepper

You may or may not need any additional salt, so be sure to taste for seasoning


Prepare your pasta according to package directions.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Sauté the onion, peppers and anchovies until onions and peppers are soft.  The anchovies will melt into the oil.  This creates lovely, deep and rich flavors.

Next, stir in the garlic and sauté for one minute longer.

Turn the heat to medium low and stir in the jalapeno or crushed red pepper flakes, capers, olives and fresh herbs.  Let the mixture heat and simmer for a few minutes, allowing all the delicious flavors to meld together.

Fold in the tomatoes, add a squeeze of lemon and then sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper and taste for salt.  You may or may not need any additional salt due to the anchovy, capers and olives.

Add the cooked pasta to the skillet of veggies tossing to coat.  Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and then pour the pasta onto a platter, ladling all the stray olives and tomatoes on top.

Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve.





Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta Seafood Shrimp

Shrimp Linguine with Fresh Arugula Lemon Pesto

From the time my two sassy gals were little, I’ve given them this tidbit of advice.  Be aware of your surroundings. Keep alert, watch where you’re going, and watch your step.  Excellent Motherly advice.  Right?

Why you ask? Because I am notorious for ending up sprawled out on a parking lot, grassy hills,  rocky slopes, sidewalks, and several times down the stairs of my back deck.  Yep, if there is a fall waiting to happen, I usually oblige.

Winery Tours with my most amazing cousins John and Shelby. John is a Wine Master with Rocca Vineyards.

Winery Tours with my most amazing cousins John and Shelby. John is the Sales Director for Rocca Vineyards.

I do heed my own advice.  Really I do.  But sometimes I’m mentally multitasking and probably not paying close attention (ya think?) to where my feet are going.  I’m not the only one with this affliction.  My twin sister.  Yep, she’s got it too.

My sister, Kristin, and I recently discussed our unintentional inability to stay firmly planted on our feet.  It’s been too long since we’ve seen each other and we met in Napa for a little fun, wine, and film at the Napa Wine and Film Festival.

Touring Napa with Ranger Craig, Kristin and Kevin (my Sis and Brother in law)

Touring Napa with Ranger Craig, Kristin and Kevin (my Sis and Brother in law)

Between wine tastings, divine food and film, Ranger Craig and my handsome Brother in law, Kevin, decided we should all go hiking.  K and I love to hike, so we were eagerly on board with the idea.

Just as I got out of the car what does my hunk of burnin’ love say to me? Smiling and trying oh so hard not to laugh… “Babe, watch your step. I don’t want to have to carry you back down the mountain”.

A beautiful day to hike Napa

A beautiful day to hike Napa

Yep.  This has happened.  Probably on more than one occasion, but I think I’ve repressed those memories.  The last time Ranger Craig and I hiked, I did a “slide into home base” down Mt. Si.  Ranger Craig and I had hiked up the mountain (without so much as a trip!) but when we were on our way down, we were deep in glorious conversation (or rather I was) when all of a sudden the mountain moved right out from under me.  And thus sending me into a forward pitch down the hill to claim home plate.

Thankfully, hiking in Napa proved painless and crashless. My sister and I laughed and reminisced through the hike about our variety of mishaps, sidewalks moving, and wide holes opening in the ground for us to step in and perform unladylike face plants.

I’m so thankful I’m not alone in the world of stumbling, falling, slipping out of my jeep onto the pavement, and those beautiful and graceful face plants. I couldn’t be more thankful for my beautiful sis. A brilliant woman who amazes me with her determination, leadership, cleverness and hilarious sense of humor.  She has a big heart and a generous spirit. I love her.

Friends and family are constant reminders of true love, joy and the spirit of Christmas.  Wishing you all a joyous and delicious holiday season.  And be sure to keep alert, watch where you’re going and watch your step. 😉

Shrimp Linguine with Fresh Arugula Lemon Pesto

I love fresh.  I love delicious.  I love simple.  Especially this time of year when it’s tempting to get take out instead of cook.  This is one of my fave pasta dishes.  It can easily be vegetarian with roasted veggies subbed for the shrimp.  It’s a great way to use leftover roasted chicken,  and sometimes I sub the shrimp for pan seared or grilled scallops.  Delicious!

Shrimp Linguine with Fresh Arugula Lemon Pesto

Serves 4-6


1 package good quality dried or fresh linguine, cooked according to package directions (my fave pasta is Jovial Brand Pastas, delicious every time!)

1½ lbs fresh shrimp (I like larger shrimp), deveined and peeled just to the tail.  Keep the tail on as it’s easier to prepare.

2 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of cayenne

For the Pesto

2 heaping cups fresh arugula (I used baby arugula) about 3-4 ounces

¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 cloves garlic (or more if you love garlic)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

¼ cup grated fresh parmesan

½ cup good quality extra virgin California Ranch Olive Oil (I love the Arbequina in this dish)

Salt and pepper to taste

Zest of one lemon

Fresh grated parmesan for garnish


Prepare the Pasta.

Prepare the pesto.  While pasta is boiling, place the pesto ingredients, except the olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper, in a blender, vitamix or food processor.  Pulse the ingredients just until nicely incorporated.  Then drizzle in the olive oil until the ingredients are a smooth puree.  Fold in the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare the Shrimp.  In a large skillet over medium high heat add the butter.  Season the shrimp with salt and pepper.  When the butter is frothy, place each shrimp one at a time in the bottom of the pan.  You may need to pan sear the shrimp in batches.  Sear the shrimp on both sides, about 1-2 minutes per side.  You will want the shrimp to be golden brown on the outside and opaque to the eye.   Transfer the shrimp to a bowl and sprinkle with just a pinch of cayenne. This may seem tedious but shrimp cook quickly and pan seared shrimp will add a lot more flavor to the dish.

Toss the warm pasta with the pesto.  Pour the pasta in a large serving bowl and layer the shrimp on top.  Garnish with additional chopped Italian parsley and grated parmesan.

This dish can be prepared in about 30 minutes.  🙂

Kid Friendly Pasta Seafood Shrimp

Shrimp Scampi Linguine With Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Basil and Lemon

Shrimp Scampi Linguine with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Basil and Lemon

There’s a new guy in my life.   And I’ve fallen in love.  Again.  Another dark brown-eyed, silky smooth haired, cute as a bug Terrier.

Gucci, a Biewer Terrier,  came to visit for a few days and we’re all smitten.  Especially Suzie Q.

Gucci, the Biewer Terrier, and his new favorite girl 🙂

I walked into my youngest daughter’s room to check on our handsome little guest.  He was as snug as a bug in one of my old willow clothes baskets.  My daughter had padded it down with lots of soft, fluffy blankets and set the basket at her feet while she finished her homework.  Gucci barely opened his sleepy eyes when I peeked in her room.  He gave me what I could swear was a half-smile, and then went back to sleep.

Gucci Bear

As you can tell I love dogs.  Actually I love most animals.  Except snakes.  But those aren’t animals.  Thankfully.  And I don’t care for rodents of any kind especially after the squirrel incident.  That’s a long story.

But to make it short… years ago, a very large and wooly, less than friendly squirrel decided I had invaded his portion of the parking lot.  He made that very clear when he started slowly walking toward me, watching me intently with those brown beady and terrifying eyes.  I thought I might be in a Stephen King movie.

No matter how far I ran, he ran after me.  Finally jumping on my leg and scaring me speechless.  Actually, I was screaming.

After doing a little jig and lots of leg shaking around my side of the parking lot, the less than friendly squirrel decided I was too much trouble and let go of my pant leg.  I can truly say this squirrel incident was one of the most horrific animal experiences of my life.

Although I may need to re-think “most horrific”.  I’ve been bitten on the bum by my pet pig, bucked off my horse into a ditch (because she wanted to chase the hay truck),  had a little standoff on my front porch with a cantankerous raccoon and the ONE camping trip my family took when I was a child, ended after the first day.  Yes…a bear attacked our camp.  I should have known early on that my love of animals came with a price.

Maybe that’s why I only have dogs.  Though I’d love a miniature donkey.  And I’ve been rallying the Bennett Crew for a chicken coop.  Ranger Craig is always telling me I need to live on a farm.  One day. 🙂

You may be wondering how in the heck is she going to bring this post back to the subject of food?  I’ll show you a picture.

Shrimp Scampi Linguine... a perfect spring meal!

I whipped up this little dish while Gucci was visiting. I had gone a little nuts with the cherry tomatoes and decided to roast the last two pints for a lovely pasta dish.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

What could be more delicious with roasted cherry tomatoes than fresh basil, lemon and shrimp scampi.  All ladled beautifully over linguine.  A perfect spring meal!

For more information about our adorable little Gucci and Biewer Terriers check out my friends website:

Spicy Shrimp Linguine with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Basil and Lemon


Serves 4-6

1 lb linguine, cooked according to package directions

1 lb shrimp, larger size,  peeled and de-veined (preferably fresh and not farm raised as the farm raised can be mushy)

2 pints cherry tomatoes

1 bunch fresh basil, chiffinade (cut into ribbons) Or hand torn

3 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 lemon, zested and juiced

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ pint heavy cream

¼ cup white wine

½ teaspoon roasted red chili paste (Thai Kitchen) or a good pinch red pepper flakes or even a good splash of Sriracha hot sauce will do the trick.


Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Drizzle the tomatoes with a tablespoon or two of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet  and roast in the oven until wilted, about 10 minutes.

Remove them from the oven and set aside.

To prepare the shrimp:  Heat a skillet on medium high heat and add two tablespoons of oil.  Season the shrimp with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar, to aid in carmelization.

As soon as the oil is hot but not smoking, add the shrimp in a single layer.

If your pan isn’t large enough you may need  cook your shrimp in two batches.  Let the shrimp cook on one side and then flip them to cook on the other side.  You’re looking for some nice golden brown color on your shrimp.  Total cook time should be about 2-4 minutes depending on the size of the shrimp.  Once the shrimp are done, remove to a plate or bowl and reserve.

To prepare the sauce:  In a sauce pan or cleaned skillet, add the butter to the pan over medium high heat.  Once the butter is frothy add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds.  Then whisk in the white wine and heavy cream.  Turn the heat down to medium and let the sauce simmer to thicken a bit.  Don’t worry if the sauce doesn’t look thick and creamy.  This is a “lightly” sauced pasta dish allowing the flavors of the ingredients to shine through.

Whisk in the chili paste or sriracha, lemon juice and zest and take the pan off the heat. Taste for salt and pepper.

Fold in the fresh basil and toss the sauce with the pasta.

Before serving, lightly toss the pasta with the shrimp and tomatoes and add one more drizzle of really good olive oil if desired.

Garnish with fresh chopped basil and shredded parmesan.  Enjoy!