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tomato sauce

Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pork

Tuscan Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Tuscan Herb Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Quick Tomato Sauce

I have a saucy crew.  Serving a meal without a sauce, salsa, relish, chutney, drizzle, vinaigrette… you get the idea –  is just not done in my house.  Many of you may already know the story about my saucy crew, especially if  you attended my culinary classes.  I love telling this story. 🙂

Years ago, I would arrive home from every culinary class motivated to master every challenge and every technique my instructors gave me.   So I practiced. Every night.  Most everything I chose to practice came with some sort of a sauce.  It was a French cooking school after all and much of the cuisine was French inspired… and saucy.

However, one day I prepared a Chicken Milanese – which you might notice is not posted anywhere on my website.  I should post one; now that I think about it.  I served that Milanese in the traditional style and with just a squeeze of lemon.  No sauce.

Oh the horror.  My darling family asked “where’s the sauce?”  I replied “there isn’t a sauce, it’s a Milanese.” To which my darling husband said “but we always have a sauce.”  Huh.

So back into the kitchen I went to make a sauce.  It ended up being a delicious idea.  I whipped up a light and quick tomato sauce that paired perfectly with the chicken Milanese, making it taste a bit like a chicken parmesan sans the mozzarella.

Today, the tradition continues.  A sauce or something “sauce like” is paired with most our family meals.  Which is why this lovely Tuscan Stuffed Pork Tenderloin is lounging on a platter of homemade tomato sauce.  Originally I paired this tenderloin recipe with a white wine sauce, however, on occasion I switch to this lovely and light tomato sauce.  A nice transition into spring and summer dining.

If you’re short on time, and you don’t have homemade tomato sauce in the freezer, don’t worry about making your own sauce.   Your favorite good-quality jarred tomato sauce will do.  I typically make pots and pots of sauce (and stock) and keep it in my freezer for these occasions, but a jarred sauce is perfect when you’re preparing this on a busy weeknight.

Wishing you all a most delicious and Happy Easter!

Loads of Love,


Tuscan Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Serves 4-6 


1 ½ – 2 lbs Pork Tenderloin

¼ cup fresh rosemary, finely chopped

¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage or oregano

3 cloves garlic minced

Pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne (optional)

½ cup dry white wine or chicken broth

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Kitchen twine

Quick Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)

Garnish with chopped Italian parsley and grated parmesan

Serve with Gnocchi, pasta or creamy polenta and an Arugula and White Bean Salad 


In a small bowl, mix together the rosemary, parsley, oregano or sage and garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and if you like a little spice add just a pinch of either cayenne or red pepper flakes.

Place both tenderloins (most tenderloins come in pairs) on a cutting board and slice the tenderloins lengthwise about ¾ of the way through.  Fill the tenderloins with equal amounts of the herb and garlic mixture.  Next, sprinkle with salt and pepper and tie up the pork with kitchen twine, in about three different places to secure the herbs.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Heat a large oven proof skillet on medium high heat and add a few drizzles of olive oil.  When the skillet is hot, but not smoking, brown the tenderloins on all sides.  Next add the white wine or chicken broth to the skillet and let it deglaze the pan a bit.

Place the skillet in the oven and let the tenderloins roast for about 20-25 minutes or until done, or until an instant read thermometer reaches 140F degrees.  Once your pork is out of the oven, let it rest for at least 5 minutes to achieve optimum flavor and final cooking temperature of 145F.

While your tenderloins are roasting prepare the tomato sauce.  Or, if you’re using homemade or jarred sauce, heat about 2 cups of sauce for the pork.

Transfer the tenderloins to a cutting board, remove the twine and slice at a slight diagonal about 8-10 slices per tenderloin.  Ladle the tomato sauce on the bottom of a platter and then place the tenderloin medallions on the sauce.  Garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley and grated parmesan.

Quick Tomato Sauce

Makes about 2-3 1/2 cups


2 tablespoons olive oil

4-6 anchovies (keep the leftovers in the frig for soups, stews, salads and sauces, or to add to an antipasti platter)

1 small red onion, diced

2-3 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 handful Italian parsley, chopped (sometimes during the summer I also add in extra fresh Italian herbs I have from my garden. Basil, oregano, marjoram)

Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1 18-28 ounce jar tomato sauce (about 2-3 cups) ( I like using glass jarred tomato sauce, but if using a tin can find one that is BPA free or enamel lined)

Squeeze of lemon

Salt and pepper to taste


In a large skillet over medium heat add a few tablespoons of olive oil and then add in the anchovy.  Let the oil and anchovy heat.  As the oil gets hot stir the anchovy a bit, the anchovy will begin to break up and blend with the oil.  When this happens, stir in the diced onion and sauté the onion until wilted.  Next stir in the garlic, parsley and pinch of red pepper flakes and let it cook for about one minute.

Take the pan off the heat and stir in the tomato sauce.  I take the pan off the heat so the tomato sauce won’t splatter everywhere.  Mix to combine ingredients and then place the skillet back over the heat and bring the sauce to a simmer.  Let the sauce cook for about 10-20 minutes.  The longer it cooks the more flavorful it will be.

Season the sauce with a little squeeze of lemon and then salt and pepper to taste.  The leftover sauce can be frozen for another use.

Beef Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Pasta Pork Sauces, Salsas and More

Vinci Sauce and Italian Meatballs

Tomato sauce prepared with DaVinci Chianti over Italian Meatballs/Karista's Ktichen

When I serve a Chianti wine, it has always been a DaVinci Chianti.  My absolute favorite Chianti for years, long before I so proudly became the 2013 DaVinci Wine Culinary Arts Storyteller.  And, might I add, DaVinci Chianti has always been an important ingredient in my tomato gravy, or as my family calls it, my Sunday sauce.

I mentioned this to Jenna, one of our lovely DaVinci Reps, during a conversation about the Chianti – when Jenna quickly said “it’s Vinci sauce!”.  And that was that.  My family’s favorite Sunday sauce is now Vinci Sauce.

Vinci Sauce is magnificent all on its own – smothering fresh pastas, gnocchi or polenta.   However, I also adore this sauce paired with Italian meatballs that simmer in the Vinci Sauce before serving.

Vinci tomato sauce and meatballs collage

Because I created these recipes for DaVinci Wine they can be found on the DaVinci Wine Facebook page.  Click here to download the recipes for Vinci Sauce and Italian Meatballs.

Buon Appetito!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Karista's Kitchen Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood Shrimp vegetarian

Spicy Pomodoro with Creamy Polenta

spicy tomato sauce with pan seared shrimp over polenta

Spicy Pomodoro with Pan Seared Gulf Shrimp over Creamy Polenta

The Autumn fog has settled onto the valley landscape and created a halo of diffused light.  Intensifying the seasons colors and keeping just a little chill in the air.

This is the time of year I pull out the heavier throw blankets and roam the house in search of the warmer socks and slippers.  Most of them in various unmarked boxes since our move.

Even the dinner meals become spicier. Rich and flavorful tomato sauces lace the seasons dishes and create a welcome evening reprieve from the shorter and cooler days.

spicy tomato sauce with pan seared shrimp over polenta

Italian Inspired Spicy Pomodoro over Creamy Polenta

This beautiful dish was inspired not only by the season but by my recent visit to Italy.  While pouring through delicious pictures of the loveliest people, mouth-watering food and soul soothing landscape, I knew I needed a spicy pomodoro over creamy polenta this week; and shrimp would make a lovely addition.

If shrimp isn’t on your list of shellfish love, try serving this rich and satisfying sauce with roasted Autumn veggies.  It pairs well with roasted eggplant and zucchini as well as sautéed seasonal mushrooms.

Top with plenty of pecorino Toscana and you just might think you were dining in Italy.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Spicy Pomodoro with Creamy Polenta

Serves 4


¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch Arbosana)

½ cup finely chopped onion

2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced

Pinch or two of red pepper flakes  (I usually add about 1/4 teaspoon) (also a smoked chipotle powder is a fun substitution)

1  28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 – 2 teaspoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar (if needed)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or ½ teaspoon dried basil

Salt and pepper to taste


In a sauce pan over medium heat add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot add the onions to the pan and sauté until golden.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté one minute longer.

Take the pan off the heat (or you’ll be splattered with crushed tomatoes) and stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and basil.  Put the pan back on the heat and then bring the sauce to a very slow simmer.  Let it cook for about 15-30 minutes.  The longer the sauce cooks the richer the flavor.

Stir in the sugar if the sauce is too “bright”.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with a little olive oil before serving.

Add pan seared or grilled shrimp directly to the sauce and let the shrimp swim in the sauce for a few minutes to absorb those delicious flavors and then serve over creamy polenta (recipe below).  Garnish with plenty of pecorino Toscana or parmesan.

Vegetarian:  Add roasted eggplant, red onions, zucchini, potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and anything else you think would be delicious.  Garnish with lots of cheese!

Creamy Polenta

3 cups whole or 2% milk

2/3 cup quick cooking polenta

¼ cup grated Pecorino Toscana or Parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the milk in a 4-quart saucepan, stirring as you bring it to a boil. While stirring, add the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and continue to keep the polenta at a simmer for about 5 minutes. Once the polenta has thickened, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated cheese. Lightly salt and pepper to taste.




Kid Friendly Pasta Sauces, Salsas and More

Simple Pasta Sauce

I think my family lives on tomato sauce!  It’s delicious, easy to prepare and healthy.  Tomatoes have one of the most powerful antioxidents called Lycopene which has shown a remarkable ability to fight diseases. 

Making sauce shouldn’t be a project.  If you have 30 minutes you can make sauce.  This recipe is my quick and simple pasta sauce.  Great for those quick weeknight meals.  If you have a few hours on the weekend to slow cook your sauce, it’ll taste even better!  It will save nicely in the frig for several days, or can be frozen for up to 3  months. 

I love using this sauce recipe with sliced Italian sausages over a hearty pasta like Rigatoni or Penne.  If you’re feeling adventurous, try a whole grain or brown rice pasta.  You’ll be surprised how good they taste.  If you have ground Italian sausage, that works as well.  Just brown your sausage and throw it in the sauce as it’s simmering.  Serve with warm crusty garlic bread and a fresh green salad with an Italian vinaigrette.   Dinner is done! 

Simple Pasta Sauce

Serves 4, but can easily be doubled

2 tblsp olive oil

1 onion diced

3 -4 cloves garlic, diced

1 28oz can crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce (I prefer Muir Glen)

½ cup dry red wine (optional)

1 tsp dried oregano (or ½ tsp fresh chopped oregano)

1 teaspoon tomato paste

Pinch of red pepper (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a sauce pan on medium heat and sauté the onions.   When the onions have become translucent, add the garlic and sauté just until fragrant.  Do not brown the garlic as it will taste bitter.  If using the red wine, stir into the veggies and reduce by half.

Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, tomato paste and red pepper.  Mix thoroughly.  Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer.  Add about 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Let the sauce simmer for about 5-10 minutes.  Taste for seasoning.   If you have a few hours to let the sauce simmer, just turn the heat to low, place a lid on the pot and simmer away.  If the sauce is too thin, simmer without the lid for a few minutes.

A little tip:  if your sauce tastes a little to “bright” or has too much acidity, try adding a pat of butter to your sauce to mellow out the acid. 

Bon Appetito!