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

Asian Noodle Salad Bowl

Asian Noodle Salad Bowl // Karista's Kitchen

Who doesn’t love bowl food? I’ve loved bowl food since before bowl food was a thing.

When I was a twenty-something I’d bake diced potatoes or cook some rice or noodles. Then I’d add one of them to a bowl and layer it with any complimentary ingredients I could find in my fridge or pantry. I’d top it off with something creamy or saucy and then proceed to enjoy every last bite.

There is something so fresh, simple and comforting about beautiful bowl food.  This Asian Noodle Salad Bowl is easily assembled with seasonal ingredients that are combined with a few pantry staples. The result is a beautiful recipe with loads of flavor.

Asian noodle salad bowls are the perfect lunch or dinner bowl, combining the comforting texture of soba noodles with an array of fresh ingredients.  Top the ingredients with the plate-licking spicy peanut sauce and you’ll find yourself adding this beautiful bowl to your regular menu rotation.

I make this Asian noodle salad bowl with all or just a few of the ingredients, depending on what I have on hand.  Sometimes I simply throw a handful of baby greens in the bowl and top with sliced mushrooms, sliced green onions and sesame seeds.  This Asian noodle salad bowl is also delicious with grilled or pan seared Gulf shrimp, tofu or tempeh. This beautiful Asian noodle bowl is always a favorite at my kitchen table.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Asian Noodle Salad Bowl

Serving Size: Makes two bowls

Asian Noodle Salad Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 package buckwheat or traditional soba noodles cooked according to package directions and cooled
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons warm water
  • Salt (optional)
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/3 cup sliced or diced red pepper
  • 1/3 cup mung beans
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions
  • ¼ cup sliced radishes
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped basil
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • ½ avocado, sliced

Instructions

In a food processer add the peanut butter, chili sauce, lime juice, vinegar, hoisin sauce, olive oil and two tablespoons of warm water. Blend until the sauces is smooth and creamy. Add additional water to thin the sauce if desired. Season to taste with salt if needed.

To assemble the salad bowl, place about one cup of noodles in each bowl. Top with the carrots, red pepper, mung beans, green onions, radishes, basil, cilantro, sesame seeds and avocado. Drizzle with the spicy peanut sauce and serve. Serve with extra sauce for the noodles.

Notes

I originally created this recipe for Home By Design Magazine February/March 2017 issue.

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly vegetarian

Classic Eggplant Parmesan

Classic Eggplant Parmesan // Karista's Kitchen

I can’t think of a better way to begin the new year than with this dreamy Classic Eggplant Parmesan.

It wasn’t long ago that I could hardly boil water.  I’m not kidding.  Years ago, anything I cooked could have caused a slow and painful death. Yep, I’m a tiny bit dramatic, but truly, it may not be far from the truth.

Back in the day, my signature meal was a sausage quiche I learned to make while living in Louisiana, fried chicken, biscuits, turkey kielbasa and sauerkraut and a few meals on the grill.  That was it. My culinary repertoire. On occasion I would branch out and follow a recipe just to make something different, but even then my culinary skills were terribly limited.

This is why I originally enrolled in culinary school almost 17 years ago – and as they say the rest is history. 😉

Of course, it didn’t help that I lived next door to the most incredible Italian home chef.  Unbelievably delicious scent’s drifting from next door right into my open windows – while I’m trying to prepare a decent meal and all I can think of is that I’d rather be eating at my neighbor’s house tonight.   Knowing how much I loved her cooking, my sweet neighbor would always bring me a sample.

Daniella’s eggplant parmesan was my favorite dish she made – olive oil fried eggplant layered among shredded mozzarella and homemade sauce.  A little bit of work but so worth every ounce of effort.  I’ve made eggplant parmesan for years now and tweaked the original recipe just a hair since those days.  Rather than labor over the flour, egg and breadcrumbs, I simply salt, pepper and flour the eggplant (I can be a lazy chef), lightly fry and then begin to layer.  Sometimes I’ll layer in a bit of herbed ricotta and I adore using whole milk mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella.  You can make your own sauce or use your favorite.

I like to make this in individual serving dishes but family style works just as well.  Serve with your favorite tossed green salad or THIS salad or THIS salad and I also love THIS salad, and some crusty Italian bread.

However you like to prepare this Classic Eggplant Parmesan, it will be a huge hit at your kitchen table.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

 

Classic Eggplant Parmesan

Serving Size: 4-6

Classic Eggplant Parmesan

This is probably one of the most quintessential Italian dishes. Lush and rich in flavor as well as texture, this dish can stand on it’s own or be served as a lovely side dish.

Photos originally published in 2015 Dec/Jan Issue of Home By Design Magazine by Karista Bennett

Ingredients

  • 1-2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced about ¼ inch thick rounds or sliced lengthwise
  • Sea or Kosher salt
  • 2 cups Whole milk mozzarella, shredded or sliced
  • 1 cup Romano cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • ½ cup grated parmesan for garnish
  • 3 cups of your favorite tomato sauce

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Salt the eggplant slices and let them sit in a colander in a large bowl for about 20-30 minutes to drain the excess liquid from the eggplant. Rinse the eggplant slices and pat dry with a paper towel.

Dust the eggplant slices with the flour, shaking off the extra flour. Using a large skillet or frying pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat.

Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, pan-fry the eggplant slices just until golden brown. Place the eggplant slices on a paper towel lined cookie sheet to absorb the excess oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Once the eggplant slices have been browned, place ¼ cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish, or if using 2 eggplants, a 10x15x2 rectangular baking dish. You can also prepare this recipe in individual baking dishes.

Layer slices of eggplant over the tomato sauce and then top with a little more sauce and a layer of mozzarella and Romano and a little chopped fresh basil. Continue layering the eggplant, sauce, cheese and basil. I usually end up with 3-4 layers.

Cover with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.

Remove the eggplant from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Slice into squares and serve with additional sauce and parmesan cheese.

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

Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash // Karista's Kitchen

My youngest sassy gal said to me yesterday “Mom, I’m in need of some Christmas. Can we Christmas things up a bit?”

Ok, so I was thinking I’d done a really good job of creating our little Christmas season indoors – but maybe not so much. 🙁

My sassy gal has had her head in the books, preparing for college entrance exams and finishing a tough semester at school.  I think she may have just noticed it’s Christmas!

So today I’m on a mission to fill my daughter’s Christmas well.  We’re off to do our Christmas Eve and Christmas day food shopping, stopping at a few farms along the way that are sweetly decorated for the season.  We’ll stop for tea, cocoa or coffee at one of our local coffee houses and then once we’re home, I’ve got movies and music planned, along with delicious food of course, for our evening’s festivities.  I think this will do it.

Although I’ve got our Italian holiday tradition, Feast of the Seven Fishes, planned for Christmas Eve, and this lovely Prime Rib planned for Christmas Day, tonight’s dinner is a lovely ham served with this gorgeous Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash.

These little stuffed squash are the perfect compliment to a ham and look so lovely on a holiday table.  Sometimes just for fun I’ll stuff them with coconut rice, golden raisins and top with chopped pistachios.  Sounds delicious doesn’t it?

Christmas has always been more than just a gift giving season for me.   It’s a season of love and appreciation, connection and sharing, and most of all, giving of our time and attention.  Even though I may not live near you or able to meet you for coffee or lunch, you are truly appreciated and a special part of Karista’s Kitchen.

I send you heartfelt thanks for following my blog and for sharing it with others that you care about.   Next year will bring more delicious recipes, snippits of a new project I’m working on, along with a few “how to” videos that hopefully will inspire you in the kitchen.

I wish you all true joy, happiness, love and a prosperous new year!

Karista

Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serving Size: 6

Cranberry, Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients

  • 3 smallish Acorn squash, or evenly sized, cut in half and seeds scraped out
  • 1-2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice powder (I like Frontier brand Chinese Five Spice Powder because it's more sweet than savory)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 cube vegetable boullion (I love the Rapunzel vegetable broth cubes)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4-1/3 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
  • Fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Brush the acorn squash halves with olive oil and then season each cut side half with Chinese Five Spice powder and salt.

Place them in a baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes or until they are soft.

To prepare the rice

Before preparing the rice, sauté the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Once the onion is wilted, add the garlic and sauté a minute longer. Then add the cup of rice, the water and the bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer and cover. Let it cook for about 40-45 minutes or until done. Fluff with a fork.

Stir in the cranberries and toasted walnuts while the rice is hot and then cover with a lid for another five minutes. Taste for seasoning.

When you're ready to serve, fill the acorn squash with the rice mixture and garnish with the chopped fresh Italian parsley.

Notes

Note: I typically prepare wild rice with 1 cup of rice to 1 3/4 cups water, depending on the brand and type of wild rice you're using. So prepare the rice according to package directions.

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Maple & Miso Roasted Root Vegetables

Maple and Miso Roasted Root Vegetables // Karista's Kitchen

I’ve been in a root vegetable rut lately and I’ve been browsing new ideas for preparing these seasonal beauties. I typically prepare root vegetables in all sorts of ways using various cooking methods to keep things interesting. I use them in Irish Beef Stew, Soups and sometimes just roasted with a honey balsamic vinaigrette. I’ve been known to finely grate them, using them in salads or slaws, and I’ve even thrown leftover roasted root vegetables in my morning omelets or top them with a poached egg.  And of course, there is nothing quite like a parsnip puree or a root veggie mash.  All lovely and delicious and palate thrilling.

But when I stumbled onto a Maple and Miso glazed root vegetable dish recently, I was in awe.  Ranger Craig and I were dining at a restaurant in Bend, Oregon and this lovely dish was on the menu.  I was intrigued.  The combination unusual but sounded like it could totally work.

Maple and Miso Roasted Root Vegetables // Karista's Kitchen

I’m not a stranger to either ingredients, in fact, one of my favorite ways to use miso is preparing my Miso Sake Glazed Black Cod or Scallops.  That dish is a staple in my house and it was a huge hit with all my culinary students.  And of course, I adore using maple syrup to glaze roasted vegetables and create lush dressings to pair with spinach, bacon and mushroom salads… but honestly, where have I been?  The combination of these two ingredients doesn’t seem to be a new idea.

After researching the use of maple syrup and miso as a glaze, I discovered all sorts of blog posts and recipes using this unique combination of flavors.  Some use miso and honey, others use miso and maple syrup.  I found loads of creative variations and after testing a few variations of my own, I decided on this simple recipe.

I found that I completely adore the Maple Miso glaze with sweet potatoes.  It just works. But if you have a bin full of root vegetables such as parsnips, turnips, beets, golden beets, carrots, red onions and sweet potatoes, this glaze makes the loveliest vegetarian entree or side dish.

I julienned my root vegetables for the photos but cutting them into 1 inch cubes works just as well.  And it makes prep much faster.

I paired this simple roasted root vegetable dish with my herb roasted chicken but it would pair just as beautifully with a slow braised pork, lamb or beef roast for a gorgeous and delicious Sunday supper.  Or try pairing these veggies with braised lentils for a complete vegetarian meal.

Once you try this fragrant and flavorful glaze you’ll be using it on everything!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Quick Note:

Because I always have a tub of organic white miso in my frig, that is what I used for this recipe.  I prefer white miso but feel free to experiment with other types of miso if you wish.  Also, don’t forget, this glaze is fantastic with sweet potatoes.  So if you’ve got a stash of sweet potatoes only, this would make a fun and delicious roasted sweet potato dish.

I adore sweet and savory combined so I always include red onions with my roasted root vegetables.  The red onion gives the dish a lovely layer of flavor and for me, completes the flavor profile of this recipe.

This is truly one of those recipes that can be used as a “guideline”.  A recipe to play with and make your own, adding or subtracting ingredients to your taste.  Enjoy!

Maple & Miso Roasted Root Vegetables

Maple & Miso Roasted Root Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 - 2lbs assorted root vegetables cut into 1 inch cubes (examples: sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, golden beets, parsnips, turnips, red onions)
  • 2 tablespoons organic white miso paste
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, optional (I forgot the seeds for the photos!)

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Line a baking sheet (or two if you need) with parchment paper.

Whisk together the miso paste, maple syrup and olive oil.

Toss the cubed vegetables with the miso/maple/olive oil blend and then sprinkle with a little sea salt and black pepper.

Transfer them onto the parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer, using two baking sheet if needed.

Place them in the oven and let them roast for about 25-35 minutes or longer, until they are done. This will depend on how large or small you diced the vegetables. They should be soft in the center and caramelized on the outside. I always check my veggies at about 25 minutes and then give it another 5-10 minutes as needed.

Take the vegetables out of the oven and taste for seasoning, giving them a little extra salt if needed. Transfer to a platter and serve warm.

For an Asian flavor twist add a tablespoon of soy sauce or sake to the miso blend and then garnish with toasted sesame seeds... or for a little spice, whisk in a splash of Sriracha.

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Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Warm Farro with Wilted Baby Spinach and Crispy Pancetta

Meet my new discovery, Farro.   Well, it’s not really a “new” discovery, I’ve just finally figured out how to cook with it.  Farro is one of those new again ancient grains to gain popularity in the mainstream food arena.  A grain that feels and cooks much like brown rice or barley, but  more complex and stubborn.  As you can tell I’ve wrestled with perfecting the cooking of this little grain.   

Farro is the Italian name for Emmer wheat.  The first bite will have you hooked; rich and nutty flavor with just a bit of crunch keeps your spoon or fork digging in for more.  A fabulous alternative to brown rice or couscous, and deliciously pairs with veggies, caramalized onions, wilted spinach, chard and anything else you can think of.   

Ok, so now you know what farro is, let me tell you how I cook it.  I’ve experimented with several methods and the method I’ve had the most luck with is simply boiling in water for a recommended amount of time, taking it off the heat, and letting it sit for a while to soften.  When the grains have popped open and become soft, that’s when I think farro tastes and feels the best.  

I’d really like to tell you it was my culinary brilliance that figured out my favorite method for preparing farro, but honestly, it was because I had to quickly take the pot of farro off the heat so I could leave my house.  I’d lost track of time experimenting with recipes and forgot I had to pick up my daughter from school!   The farro was just going to have to wait and I’d deal with the disaster when I got home.  To my surprise it wasn’t a disaster at all, it was a delicious discovery.  I love when that happens!

If you can’t find farro where you live, here is a link to our local Emmer Farro grower, Bluebird Grain Farms.  They will ship right to your door!  http://www.bluebirdgrainfarms.com/index.html  

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 cups Emmer Farro (whole grain, if using cracked farro cut the cook time in half, or follow cooking instructions on the package)

4 1/2 cups water or veggie or chicken broth

8 oz – organic baby spinach ( or more, depending on how much you like spinach!)

8 – 10 slices pancetta (basically it’s Italian bacon)

1 small onion, halved and thin sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Butter

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Chopped fresh Italian parsley (for garnish, optional)

Directions

In a large pot, heat the 4 1/2 cups water.  Season the water with a little salt, and then add the farro.  Let the farro simmer for about 30 minutes.  Check the farro, if it is soft and plump and you like the texture then it’s ready.  However, if it’s still a bit crunchy and the kernels haven’t burst, take it off the heat and let it sit for another 30 minutes in the hot water.  

While the farro is cooking, heat a skillet on medium and add a pat of butter and saute the onions.  Once the onions are soft and golden, add the garlic and saute for a minute longer.

Transfer the onions and garlic to a bowl and set aside.  In the same skillet over medium heat, add the pancetta.  Let the pancetta cook and crisp, like bacon and then transfer to a dish and set aside. 

Last, again in the same skillet, add a drizzle of olive oil if needed and heat on medium heat.  In batches, add the baby spinach to the pan and let the spinach wilt.  You just want the spinach to wilt slightly, not cook down until soggy.  Transfer the spinach to the dish with the onions and garlic. 

When the farro is done, drain if needed and place in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Toss the farro with the spinach, onions and garlic.  Once it’s blended to your satisfaction, crumble the pancetta over the top and serve.  Dust with fresh chopped Italian parsley if desired. 

Enjoy!

I surfed the net for additional farro recipes, and I love the farro post on the blog Orangette, a fellow Seattlite.  Sounds yummy! PS: I love Molly’s book too!  Definitely worth purchasing, a great read!

http://orangette.blogspot.com/2009/04/its-name-is-farro.html