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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Risotto Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Lemon Risotto with Crispy Mushroom and Mint Gremolata

Lemon Risotto with Crispy Mushroom and Mint Gremolata // the perfect spring meal from Karista's Kitchen

It’s the first full week of spring and my mint plant is blooming the prettiest Chartreuse green leaves. These gorgeous green leaves are inspiring a constant stream of recipe ideas like this Lemon Risotto with Crispy Mushroom and Mint Gremolata.  

I adore adding fresh mint to my recipes and I often add it to my quinoa salads, cucumber and papaya salsa, and even a few stir fry recipes. And now mint has made it’s way into my lemon risotto with a crispy mushroom and mint gremolata.

Mixing fresh herbs with sautéed mushrooms compliments a dish and gives it a little extra something special.  I like to combine fresh mint, parsley and basil in my gremolata because each of those herbs play so well together. Not to mention, the herbs compliment the lemon risotto so beautifully you’d think they were made for each other.

Lemon Risotto with Crispy Mushroom Gremolata // Karista's Kitchen

This lovely recipe is bright with flavor but still comforting in texture. Lemon risotto with crispy mushroom and mint gremolata highlights the dawn of a new season with  a playful twist of fresh ingredients.

This is a short, although delicious, post today but I’ll be back soon with more tempting recipes from a new kitchen!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Lemon Risotto with Crispy Mushroom and Mint Gremolata

Serving Size: serves 4 (recipe can be doubled)

Lemon Risotto with Crispy Mushroom and Mint Gremolata


  • 2 tablespoons ghee or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup diced yellow onion (about 1/2 of a large onion)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4-5 cups warm vegetable broth (I like a creamy risotto so I use extra broth)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 medium lemon zested
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced assorted seasonal mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • A squeeze of fresh lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • To make the risotto add 2 tablespoons of ghee or olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add the diced onions and sauté until tender, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the rice and stir for one minute longer. Add ½ cup dry white wine and stir until absorbed, about 1 minute.
  • Next, stir in 1 cup of the warm broth and simmer until it’s absorbed, stirring frequently. Continue to add 1/2 cup of broth at a time, stirring often and allowing each addition of broth to be absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. Cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the rice is almost tender, al dente.
  • When the risotto is done, take it off the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To make the gremolata, heat a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot add the mushrooms and saute until slightly browned and a little crispy. Then stir in the minced garlic, fresh chopped herbs and squeeze of lemon. Take the skillet off the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To serve the risotto, ladle risotto into individual bowls or one large serving bowl. Top the lemon risotto with the crispy mushroom and mint gremolata and serve with additional grated parmesan cheese.
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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table vegetarian

    Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl

    Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl for a fresh and simple weeknight meal // Karista's Kitchen

    This is a recipe I’ve been wanting to post for a long time.  Swiss chard, leek and mushroom rice bowl.  Seriously, I think I make this once a week, however, often with whatever I have on hand.

    Sometimes it’s Swiss chard because I’ve got a spring garden full of chard.   Sometimes with organic seasonal greens, spinach, mustard greens or kale that I picked up at the market because someone used all the chard for their green protein smoothie.  😉  That’s actually what happened when I went to make this recipe a few nights ago.  The Swiss chard was gone so I reached for my organic seasonal greens.  But that’s why I love this dish so much.  It can become whatever you want it or need it to be.

    sautéing leeks // Karista's Kitchen

    Begin with a little extra virgin olive oil and sauté the leeks.


    On occasion I’ll make this with brown rice, just for the heck of it and because I love that nutty flavor from brown rice.  Sometimes I make it with quinoa when I’m in a quinoa mood or Einkorn berries when I feel like I want to mix things up a bit.   Most often though, I make this recipe with Jasmine or Basmati rice.  I find the clean, fragrant flavor of Jasmine rice compliments the rich bitterness of the Swiss Chard or Kale.

    sautéing leeks and Italian parsley // Karista's Kitchen

    Once the leeks are slightly caramelized, add the fresh herbs and garlic.


    During the winter months the Bennett Crew likes a bit of sautéed crumbled Italian sausage mixed in or leftover beef or pork roast.  This dish can easily accommodate leftover roast chicken or turkey as well.

    As for me… I’m happy with a fried egg on top.

    sautéing mushrooms // Karista's Kitchen

    Then add the sliced mushrooms and cook until wilted.


    When leeks aren’t in season I use diced onions or sliced green onions.  When my herb box is overflowing, I chop up fresh herbs and throw those in as well.  It’s truly a hearty one dish meal that satisfies everyones palate.

    baby greens sautéing // Karista's Kitchen

    Add the greens and toss gently with tongs until wilted.


    sautéing baby greens // Karista's Kitchen

    All the ingredients get served over rice or ancient grain and topped with a bit of grated parmesan cheese for good measure.  This, my friends, makes my family so happy. 🙂  Which makes me happy of course.

    Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl // Karista's Kitchen

    Swiss chard, leek and mushroom rice bowls… Food fresh and simple.  Isn’t that what a weeknight dinner should be?

    Wishing you a very happy weekend with friends and family!

    Loads of Love,


    Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl

    Serving Size: 4

    Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl


    • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or ghee
    • 2 medium to large leeks, trimmed where the white turns pale green, rinsed, halved lengthwise and diced (or 1 small onion, diced)
    • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
    • 1 tablespoon chopped mixed fresh herbs (Italian parsley, oregano, thyme, marjoram, chives)
    • 1-2 cups sliced mushrooms (cremini, buttons, chanterelle when in season are delicious)
    • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and greens chopped or 3-4 cups seasonal chopped or baby greens
    • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
    • 4 cups cooked white or brown rice
    • Serve with cooked ground Italian sausage, homemade sausages, leftover pork or beef roast, leftover roast chicken and of course top with a fried or poached egg.
    • Garnish with grated parmesan cheese (optional)
    • Sometimes my youngest gal likes a dollop of Greek yogurt on top 🙂


  • In a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat, add 1-2 tablespoons of the oil or ghee. When the oil is hot add the leeks and sauté until slightly golden. Then add the minced garlic, fresh herbs and mushrooms. Add the additional tablespoon of oil if desired. But remember, the mushrooms will soak up all the liquid and oil in the pan and then once they're cooked, they will release the liquid and oil.
  • Once the mushrooms are done, add the greens in batches if necessary. Toss gently until the greens are incorporated and wilted, but not over cooked.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve over rice with garnishes or meats.
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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Soup Turkey

    Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

    Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup // Karista's Kitchen

    Although Thanksgiving turkey dinner is a treat, it’s really the leftovers that excite my family.  During the cooler months, soup is king in my house.

    This Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup is the perfect way to use leftover turkey, along with the loads of delicious turkey stock I prepare the day after Thanksgiving.

    It wasn’t long ago we lived back east and visited Plymouth Village every Thanksgiving.  It felt surreal to walk through the village on Thanksgiving day, soaking up the history while giving thanks for family and friends.

    A few Thanksgiving dinners we dined at the village for their annual feast. Other times we would dine at one of the many local restaurants in the area serving Thanksgiving dinner.

    One particular year we dined at the sweetest restaurant which was in a renovated Victorian home.  This was of course before my days at culinary school, so something as simple as a delicious soup still mystified me.  Honestly, I don’t think I had ever tasted such an exquisite soup like the Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup we had that day.  So rich and flavorful with tender pieces of roast turkey and the woody, heady scent of the mushrooms combined with aromatics of thyme and sherry… I was in soup heaven.

    Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup // Karista's Kitchen

    Each Thanksgiving since, I re-create that soup.  And each Thanksgiving I always think I’ve done a pretty good job with my re-creation.  This Thanksgiving season, I decided it was time to share the recipe for my Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup. 🙂

    This year we had a lovely Thanksgiving day with our family that began with Mimosa’s and then continued with silly faces for the camera, everyone in the kitchen cooking and singing – and a few peeled off into the family room for a dance off. We’re a crazy lot, but I love our zest for life and love and family and for the gratefulness we all share.

    My messy kitchen from Thanksgiving Day // Karista's Kitchen My oldest sassy gal preparing the Thanksgiving dressing // Karista's Kitchen My two sassy gals at Thanksgiving // Karista's Kitchen Thanksgiving Table // Karista's Kitchen

    Life around my table is always filled with love, inspiration and of course, tasty food.  Bringing us together, cementing our connection and supporting each other.  During this holiday season I try to extend my reach and bring others to the table that aren’t so fortunate by donating to our local food bank, giving to our local shelters and community centers as well as churches in our valley that support local families.

    This year I encourage you to extend your love and life around the table by giving to a local family or a food bank in need;  filling their empty well with your love of food or service this holiday season.  After all, isn’t that what the holidays are for? For loving each other, giving freely and supporting each other.

    In the past, I was the fortunate recipient of this kind of love.  It was extended to my family many years ago when I was a child.  A time when our family was at one of the lowest points of my childhood.  A time when my parents needed help, needed compassion and love.

    Our community brought us food, not just for Thanksgiving dinner but for several weeks after.  That compassion made a huge impression on my 10-year-old self.  I’ll never forget the kindness and grace in our neighbors faces as they delivered the food.  For me, it meant survival – and a little joy during a joyless time in our lives.

    I treasure you all and I’m so thankful for your support here at Karista’s Kitchen. I wish you the happiest, most delicious and joyous of holiday seasons.

    Loads of love,


    Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

    Serving Size: 6-8

    Turkey, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup


    • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 2 celery stalks, diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
    • 1 cup sliced fresh seasonal mushrooms (I used cremini, shiitake and oyster)
    • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
    • 1/4 cup dry sherry
    • 6 cups turkey or chicken broth
    • 1 cup wild rice, not cooked
    • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
    • 3 cups diced turkey meat (this recipe is also great with leftover roasted chicken)
    • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
    • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms for garnish
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • Chopped Italian parsley for garnish


  • Heat 1 cup of water to boiling. Place the dried porcini mushroom in a heat proof bowl and pour the boiling water over the mushrooms making sure all the mushrooms are moistened. Let that sit for about 15-20 minutes. The gently remove the mushrooms to a chopping board with a mesh strainer. Reserve at least 1/2 cup of the mushroom liquid to add to the soup. Chop the porcini mushrooms and add them to the fresh mushrooms.
  • In a large pot, add the extra virgin olive oil and heat over medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the onions and celery and sauté until wilted. Then stir in the garlic, the porcini and one cup fresh mushrooms and thyme and cook for one to two minutes longer or until the mushrooms begin to wilt.
  • Stir in the sherry and let it reduce by half. Then stir in the turkey or chicken broth, 1/2 cup of porcini mushroom liquid and bring it to a boil.
  • Stir in the rice and Italian parsley and then turn it down to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for at least 30 minutes or longer until the rice is cooked.
  • Stir in the diced turkey or chicken, season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Sauté the 1/2 cup of mushrooms and minced garlic clove in a bit of butter and then season with salt and pepper. Use the mushrooms and chopped Italian parsley to garnish each bowl of the soup.
  • Notes

    This is a great recipe for leftover roasted chicken as well. Increase the fresh or dried mushrooms as you prefer. As well, add or delete broth depending on how thick or thin you like your soup. I prefer a heartier soup so often I'll only add five cups liquid instead of six.

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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic and Herbs

    Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic and Herbs in a white wine cream sauce

    What do I serve as a side dish in a pinch?  These gorgeous Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce.  Seasonal mushrooms that are gently sautéed with garlic and fresh herbs and then finished with a light white wine cream sauce. 

    These sautéed mushrooms couldn’t be easier or more delicious.  Living in the Pacific Northwest, we’re fortunate to have a climate perfect for growing mushrooms.  It’s not difficult to find locally grown or wild mushrooms here in the Pacific Northwest; often finding them at the Farmer’s Market as well as local markets.

    Another option is to take a wild mushroom foraging tour.  Ok, I have to admit, I’ve never been on a wild mushroom foraging tour but it’s on my bucket list.  I know, it doesn’t sound exciting enough to be on a bucket list but because I’m such a food nerd it’s super exciting to me.  Not to mention, I’m smack in the middle of mushroom heaven. It’s just something we do up her in the far left hand corner of the U.S.

    Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic and Herbs in a white wine cream sauce

    Most markets carry a fair assortment of mushrooms.  Crimini’s, buttons, shiitake, seasonal chanterelle, seasonal oyster, seasonal truffle, and seasonal morels as well as a selection of dried mushrooms that I often incorporate into my sautéed mushrooms.  

    Because I adore porcini mushrooms, and it’s rare to find them fresh unless you’re in Italy, I reconstitute them in warm white wine and add them to these sautéed mushrooms.  Porcini mushrooms have a distinct, woody and nutty flavor that lends depth to this sautéed mushroom recipe.  I’ve also used dried morels, oyster and chanterelle in a pinch.  Truly any dried mushroom you like, mixed with fresh mushrooms will make a delicious and tantalizing side dish.

    I serve these sautéed mushrooms with beef, pork, poultry, salmon and sometimes over mashed potatoes, roasted root veggies, or rice.  They’re also divine when topped with a fried egg. 

    They’re a lovely and complimentary side dish and I love them served with leftover turkey and gravy.  On the rare occasion you have leftover sautéed mushrooms, add them to a soup or stew for a little extra texture and flavor.

    Once you make these sautéed mushrooms you’ll love them so much, you’ll want to make them a regular rotation on your side dish menu.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce

    Serving Size: 4

    Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce


    • 1 lb assorted fresh mushrooms (cremini, shitake, oyster, morels), sliced
    • 1 ounce dried porcini or morels (reconstituted in warm water or wine), chopped
    • 2 large portabella mushrooms, thinly sliced
    • ¼ cup fresh chopped herbs (Italian parsley, chive, thyme, oregano, marjoram or rosemary)
    • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • ¼ cup white wine
    • ¼ cup heavy cream
    • Squeeze of lemon
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Fresh grated Parmesan for garnish


  • In a medium sauté pan heat the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted stir in all the sliced mushrooms. The mushrooms will soak up the butter, but will release the oils once the mushrooms have wilted.
  • Continue tossing the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms until wilted or slightly browned. Stir in the fresh herbs and garlic and sauté for a minute longer.
  • Add the white wine and stir. Then add the heavy cream and stir. Allow the cream to thicken and then take the pan off the heat, toss with a squeeze of lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Garnish with fresh grated Parmesan and serve.
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    Karista's Kitchen Pasta vegetarian

    Pasta Cortona

    linguine with napa cabbage and mixed mushrooms drizzled with truffle oil

    Pasta Cortona

    How could I travel to Italy and not visit the mountain top village of Cortona?  I resisted.  Truly I did.  I didn’t want to be one of those blurry eyed, dreamy looking tourists on a quest to visit a place they’ve read about in a novel or seen on television in a movie.

    With a clever grin and knowing eyes, my darling husband kindly dispelled my silly notion by telling me I’d already been walking around for days like a blurry eyed tourist with eyes the size of saucers.  Hmmm… and I thought I was being rather cool and collected.

    Early one morning, my husband, who is a sport, no – he’s a super sport,  kindly obliged my longing to see Cortona. We hopped a train and arrived at the small, more modern town of Camucia Cortona which lies at the bottom of the mountain where Cortona is so beautifully is perched.

    Camucia Cortona Train Station

    Camucia Cortona Train Station

    Once inside the walls of the medieval city I felt myself becoming the blurry eyed tourist, eyes wide with amazement of this ancient city.  The architecture so unique with steep narrow streets and views of the surrounding countryside.  Breathtaking.

    Nonni's of Cortona

    Nonni’s of Cortona walking home from mass.

    Ranger Craig and I spent the day walking the steep and narrow streets, talking to the locals, snapping more pictures than I thought was possible, touring the churches and viewing art of the Renaissance.  A magical day that ended with food.  Actually, I think we ate our way through Cortona.  Pasta, soups, salumi, pastry, wine, more wine and then caffe.

    Trattoria in Cortona

    Trattoria in Cortona

    One of the most delicious meals I dined on in Italy was in Cortona.  A dish of fresh handmade linguine tossed with savoy cabbage in a light wine and butter sauce, topped with shaved truffle and fresh pecorino.  A little heaven in a bowl.

    dog in cortona,Italy

    A furry friend in Cortona saying hello as we passed by

    mountain garden in Cortona, Italy

    Mountain garden in Cortona

    Piazza Garibaldi in Cortona, Italy

    Piazza Garibaldi in Cortona

    Now that I’m home, I wanted to create a lovely version of that dish.  Something fresh, simple but flavorful.  We don’t have an abundant of truffles here in the states so I decided to make this an easy dish to prepare with local mushrooms and my favorite Napa cabbage.  And of course, if you wish, a drizzle of black truffle oil over the top.  A tribute to the lovely day in Cortona.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Pasta Cortona

    Serving Size: 3-4


    • 12 oz. linguine, cooked according to package directions
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
    • 1-2 oz dried porcini mushrooms (I love porcini mushrooms so I use 2 oz)
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 leek, white part only, root trimmed, halved and then thinly sliced
    • 1 medium shallot, finely diced
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
    • ½ cup white wine
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 3 cups sliced Napa cabbage (about ½ a medium cabbage)
    • ¼ cup grated parmesan
    • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Squeeze of lemon
    • Drizzle of black truffle oil (optional, but it’s really good!)
    • Shaved aged Pecorino for garnish


  • Prepare the pasta according to package directions. When draining the linguine, reserve ½ cup of pasta water.
  • Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a sauce pan and pour boiling water over the dried mushrooms. Give them a stir, cover and let them sit for about 20 minutes. When they are soft, drain the liquid, let them cool for a moment and then lightly chop the mushrooms.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat the butter and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When the butter/oil is hot, add the shallots and leeks and sauté until wilted and fragrant.  Add the garlic and saute one minute longer.
  • Stir in the chopped porcini mushrooms and Italian parsley. Let them cook for about 1 minute and then add the white wine. Let the wine reduce by half and then stir in the heavy cream, grated parmesan and pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Next toss in the sliced Napa cabbage, and gently toss with the mixture, adding the additional olive oil as needed.
  • Take the skillet off the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
  • Add the linguine and ½ cup of pasta water to the cabbage and mushrooms. The sauce will thicken as it cools. However, if the sauce seems a bit thin, place the skillet back over medium heat and let the sauce cook for a few minutes which will thicken the sauce.
  • Transfer the pasta to a platter or individual serving bowls and drizzle with truffle oil if desired and shaved aged pecorino cheese. Serve immediately.
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    Beef Karista's Kitchen

    Beef Tenderloin Medallions with Madeira Wine Pan Sauce

    beef tenderloin with madeira wine sauce

    When I was little, I would stand with my face pressed against the chain link fence that surrounded our yard, watching my Grandfather attempt his daily chores outside.  Grandpa was a hard worker.  Once a policeman, then a plumber and always semi-retired.

    Grass never grew under Grandpa’s feet.  He was always up to something.  Digging holes for posts so he could hang a new tire swing for the Grandkids, tinkering in his man cave with his motorcycles, somehow resisting the ache of taking a long ride through the country.

    A hearty man.  Skin made of leather from years in the sun, barely a speck of blonde hair left on a shiny brown head.  Scars and a crooked nose from numerous motorcycle accidents never deterred the sweetness of his face.  A smile that could warm the heart and the bluest eyes that twinkled brightly.

    Until the moment my Grandmother opened the front door and shouted his name.  He pretended he didn’t hear her calling.

    This always made me giggle.  I’d keep his secret.  I’d never tell Grandma where he was, although I’m sure she knew.


    I’ve been lucky.  I’ve had, and continue to have, many good men in my life.  Uncles, Grandfather’s, Father’s, brother’s, cousins who are like my brothers, friends and of course my main man and love of my life, Ranger Craig.   Men of character and integrity, respect for the strong women in their lives, men who were, and still are, some of the best Father’s I’ve ever known.

    Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and most delicious Father’s Day!

    Loads of Love,


    Beef Tenderloin Medallions with a Madeira Wine Pan Sauce

    Serves 2 (can easily be doubled)


    2 Beef Tenderloin approximately 5-6 ounces each

    Salt and pepper

    2 tablespoons high heat oil or clarified butter (Ghee)

    1 tablespoon chopped shallots

    3 tablespoons unsalted butter

    1 tablespoon flour

    1 cup beef stock

    ½ cup Madeira wine

    1/2 cup sliced sautéed cremini mushrooms (optional)

    1 tablespoon beef demi-glaze.  This gives a little richer flavor to the sauce and can be found at most markets, usually near the beef broth, or in the freezer section

    Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish (optional)


    Season the beef with salt and pepper on both sides.  In a heavy bottom pan, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Once the oil is shimmering and hot, place the beef tenderloin in the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides.  About 6-7 minutes per side for medium doneness. Transfer the beef to a plate.

    Turn the heat down to medium and in the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Then stir in the chopped shallots.  Once the shallots are fragrant stir in the flour.  Once the flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds to one minute, whisk in the beef stock and then the Madeira wine.

    Continue whisking and cooking until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened just a bit.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

    Ladle a bit of sauce on a plate and place a tenderloin on top with any remaining beef juices from the beef plate.  Garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley and serve immediately.

    I love this beef dish with Potatoes Dauphinoise and Roasted Asparagus.

    Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta vegetarian

    Sweet Baby Peas and Mushroom Pappardelle tossed in Sherry Cream

    Sweet baby peas and mushrooms over pappardelle

    Assorted lush shades of green encompass the landscape this time of year.  Spring, a time of revival, renewal and start over’s.  Yes, start over’s.  As in something keeps eating the spring greens in my garden, so now I have to start over.

    At least the chicken gals are the beneficiaries of the demolished plants.  They’re loving the lush stems of what was to be a delicious leaf that would grace my pasta or salad recipes.

    sweet baby peas and mushrooms in a sherry cream sauce over pappardelle

    So it was timely that Ranger Craig and I decided to head over to Eastsound Farmer’s Market on Orcas Island a few weeks ago.  I found a bounty of spring produce that made me almost giddy.  Spring onions, asparagus, leafy greens and some small sweet baby peas.  Not to mention slurping fresh shucked oysters and dining on freshly cooked Carni Asada with homemade corn tortillas.

    If that wasn’t spectacular enough, I ran into two good friends and fellow food and farm bloggers, Janelle of Talk of Tomatoes, and her newest baby,; and Wendy of Chez Chloe and her newest adventure, a gourmet food store called “Chez Chloe”.  A must visit when staying on Orcas Island.  Wendy stocks an impressive selection of salts and oils and books and chocolates… the deliciousness goes on and on.

    orcas island washington

    Wendy of Chez Chloe on Orcas Island

    What a brilliant day.  Sunshine, warm breezes off the bay, food that caused a most soul filled joy and two friends to make the day even brighter.

    Sweet Baby Peas and Mushroom Pappardelle tossed in Sherry Cream

    Serves 2-3 (recipe can be doubled)


    8-10 ounces Pappardelle or any wide hearty pasta, cooked homemade or according to package instructions

    2 tablespoons butter (plus extra if needed)

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    1 shallot, finely diced

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    2 cups thin sliced cremini or assorted local mushrooms

    3 sprigs fresh thyme

    ½ cup dry sherry

    1 pint heavy cream

    Salt and pepper to taste

    1 cup cooked fresh spring peas or thawed organic sweet peas (look for a brand that is locally grown)

    ¼ -1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

    ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

    Options: Grilled/Roasted Chicken or Grilled Shrimp (sometimes I like to toss in some cubed cooked chicken or place a grilled chicken breast cutlet on top of the pasta before serving)


    In a medium sauce pan heat the butter and olive oil over medium to medium high heat.  Once the butter has melted and is frothy add the shallots and thyme.  Sauté for just a minute or two and then add the mushrooms.  Continue to sauté the mushrooms, adding an additional tablespoon of butter or oil if needed to help soften the mushrooms.

    Once the mushrooms are cooked the way you like them, add the garlic (I like my mushrooms slightly golden). Continue to cook for another minute and then whisk in the sherry.  Let the sherry simmer until slightly reduced and then whisk in the heavy cream.

    Let the heavy cream come to a lively simmer and then season with salt and pepper to taste.  For a little heat, add in a pinch of red pepper flakes.

    Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes.  Add the peas to the sauce and then pour the sauce over the pasta.  Remove any remaining thyme sprigs.

    Toss the pasta with the sauce and add the parmesan cheese. Let the pasta cool so the sauce can thicken slightly and then plate the pasta and garnish with chopped Italian parsley.

    Serve immediately or serve warm.  This is even delicious straight out of the frig  🙂

    Kid Friendly Pasta vegetarian

    Straw and Hay (Paglia e Fieno)

    I don’t think the Bennett Crew wants to see another plate of pasta any time soon.  This is clearly my fault.  After I made this recipe the first time, I realized I hadn’t used the right type of pasta.

    So I tried it a second time using the perfect pasta.  It was delicious.  But I got so excited about how spectacular it tasted, I forgot to add the sweet spring peas.  Great.  I couldn’t possibly post this without the peas so I decided to make it one last time.

    I guess third times a charm because the Paglia e Fieno was perfect!  And so perfectly delicious that after serving it to my hungry crew and downing a plate myself I realized I forgot to take a picture!

    Despite not getting the third perfect picture of the perfect Paglia e Fieno, I can tell you the dish is simply divine.  A smooth and creamy sauce infused with just a hint of garlic and mellow onion, delicately wrapping the spinach and egg pasta.  With each bite of silky sauced pasta are bits of bold flavored proscuitto, thin slivers of earthy cremini mushrooms and sweet spring baby peas.  All the flavors balanced and beautifully decadent.

    As you can see the picture of the Paglia e Fieno without the spring peas made it into the blog.  I didn’t have the heart to make it one more time for dinner, just for a picture.  I’ll need to wait a few more weeks and by that time, we will have tired of spring peas and moved onto the newer and more exciting summer produce.  So in the interest of utitlizing all those spring peas now in season, I decided to post the picture anyway.  You get the “picture” right?  🙂

    Paglia e Fieno (if you’re wondering how to pronounce this it sounds like PAHL-ya eh FYAY-no)

    Serves 4-6


    1/2 lb spinach linguine or taglietelle, cooked

    1/2 lb egg linguine, cooked (sometimes you can find “straw and hay” packaged together)

    2 tablespoons butter

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    1 small onion, diced

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    1 cup sliced organic cremini mushrooms

    1 cup organic peas

    1/2 cup diced proscuitto or ham (omit the ham for a vegetarian version)

    1 pint heavy cream

    1/2  cup freshly grated parmesan

    Salt and pepper

    Chopped fresh Italian parsley (for garnish)


    In a sauce pan heat the butter and oil over medium heat.  When the butter has melted and is frothy add the onion.  Let the onion saute until wilted and fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.

    Next stir in the cremini mushrooms and let them cook with the onion for a minute or two.  Next add the garlic and let it cook for just a minute.

    Stir in the heavy cream and turn down the heat to medium low.  Let the cream simmer for a few minutes until it’s thickened slightly.  Then stir in the peas and ham.

    Season the sauce with salt and pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes for a little bite to the sauce.

    Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and toss gently.  To serve family style, transfer the pasta to a baking dish and sprinkle the top with the parmesan cheese.   Or plate on individual plates and top with the parmesan cheese.

    Turn the oven broiler on high and set the baking dish (or plates) in the center of the oven.  Let the parmesan on top brown and then remove from the oven.  Let the pasta sit for a few minutes before serving.  Dust with chopped fresh Italian parsley.

    *Although I love this dish prepared traditionally with the spinach and egg pasta, you can certainly substitute a whole grain or brown rice pasta.  It will still be delicious.