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vegetarian

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

Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup

Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup // Dairy Free // Karista's Kitchen

This gorgeous Carrot Ginger Coconut soup is a revised version of my original carrot soup recipe.  As time passes, and the more I prepare a recipe, chances are it’s going to get a few makeovers now and again.

Although I do love my original recipe, I’ve created this version with coconut milk to appease my nagging dairy allergy and to create a different flavor twist to the soup.

I prepare carrot ginger soup almost year round.  My family completely adores this soup in the fall and winter months because of the soothing properties of ginger.  It’s also equally as loved in the spring and summer for the bold taste of earthy, sweet carrots and the tropical flavors of coconut milk.

Last week I topped the carrot ginger coconut soup with candied blood orange that my brother and sister-in-law sent me from Japan.  The simple touch of orange elevated the flavors yet again, creating the most delightful winter soup.

I often make the soup on the weekend and store it in the fridge for quick weekday lunches or a light weeknight meal.  It also makes a delicious starter to Sunday dinner or a late night snack.

And sometimes, I just find myself stopping by the fridge and snagging a spoonful of the silky, lush soup. It’s delicious room temp or warm and obviously, I eat it when it’s cold. 😉

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup

Serving Size: 4-6

Carrot Ginger Coconut Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 12-15 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup sliced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or 2 cups vegetable broth and 2 cups carrot juice (enough liquid to cover the veggies in the soup pot)
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 cup canned organic coconut milk (not the light coconut milk)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic and dried thyme. Sauté for about 10 minutes or until all the veggies have softened.

Add the 4 cups of vegetable broth or 2 cups vegetable broth and 2 cups carrot juice and sliced ginger. (enough liquid to cover all the vegetables in the pot) Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the ginger slices, or as many as you can.

Either using a hand blender or pour the soup into a blender, Vitamix or food processor and puree. You may need to do this in stages as all the soup may not fit in the blender/food processor all at once.

Pour the pureed soup back into the pot and stir in the allspice, pinch of cloves and coconut milk. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. If the soup feels too thick, stir in ¼ cup of vegetable broth at a time until the consistency feels right.

Serve immediately. You can keep it warm on the stove if needed. Just keep the heat on low. This soup can be refrigerated for about 3 days and reheated stove top, or microwave.

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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,

Karista

Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl

Serving Size: 4

Swiss Chard, Leek and Mushroom Rice Bowl

Ingredients

  • 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 🙂

Instructions

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 Life Around My Table Pasta vegetarian

Raviolo al Uovo with Brown Butter

Raviolo al Uovo with Brown Butter // Karista's Kitchen

You know that feeling you get when you bite into a fork full of food so lush, so decadent, it causes a sort of euphoria? And for a moment, you’re senses are transported to another place – relishing the taste, the textures and aroma.  That’s Raviolo al Uovo with Brown Butter.

This isn’t just another lovely dish, it’s a dish to be savored, served with the best wine and the best company.  It’s a perfect “date night in” recipe, or something you’d serve to a few close friends.  When you prepare this dish, give your self plenty of time in the kitchen.  You know the old saying, the one your mom probably said a thousand times, “stop taking your sweet time and get a move on it”?  Well this is the time to ignore that saying.   Although it’s not a difficult recipe to prepare it does take a gentle hand and a little “sweet” time.

Raviolo al Uovo with Brown Butter // Karista's Kitchen

When I was thinking about what I’d write for VRAI Magazine’s December issue, I knew I wanted it to be special.  I’d planned a roasted Tri-Tip that turned out sumptuous in every way – but it just didn’t feel right for the season.  It had to be Raviolo al Uovo.

Raviolo al Uovo with Brown Butter // Karista's Kitchen

I know you’ll love this recipe and you can find it at VRAI Magazine.   If you make it,  I’d love to know how it turned out.  And of course, you can always email me with questions.

Wishing you all a beautiful and very delicious Holiday Season!

Loads of Love,

Karista

 

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,

Karista

Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce

Serving Size: 4

Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine Cream Sauce

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

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 Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Pesto Broccolini

Pesto Broccolini // Karista's Kitchen

Some recipes garner a surprising response.  This little platter of Pesto Broccolini got loads of love on my Instagram and Facebook page which honestly, sort of surprised me.

So, I decided to post it here.  It’s just a simple side that I toss together when I’m in a hurry but I want something fresh and delicious to serve with my dinner entrée.

I was preparing a stuffed trout dish Monday night and I happened to have several bunches of Broccolini, which I typically pair with pasta or Gnocchi.  But Monday night I decided to serve it a la carte tossed with some basil pesto I had made the day before.  Voila! Pesto Broccolini.

This is something I also do with blanched broccoli or cauliflower, sautéed or grilled zucchini and on occasion, roasted baby red potatoes and carrots.  It allows me to serve a fresh seasonal side with minimal fuss – because minimal fuss is important when the day is long and dinner is late.

And who doesn’t love a crisp tender veggie lightly bathed in a spicy and herb laced pesto?  Even my picky eater loves this gorgeous Pesto Broccolini side dish.  If you don’t have the time to knock out a homemade pesto,  just buy one.  There are many excellent, high quality pesto’s in the market these days – many without any preservatives and made exclusively with extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs.

Here’s to making dinner fresh, simple and delicious! Cheers!

Karista

Pesto Broccolini

Serving Size: 4-6

Pesto Broccolini

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs Broccolini, trimmed and larger stalks halved
  • 1/2 - 1 cup Basil Pesto (prepared or homemade)
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Instructions

Fill a large pot with water and heat over high heat. Once the water has reached a boil, add about one tablespoon of salt. Then add the broccolini.

Let the broccolini cook for 2 1/2 - 3 minutes for crisp tender or 4 -5 minutes for tender. Drain in a colander and then place in a bowl and toss gently with 1/2 cup of pesto or more if needed. Drizzle with a squeeze of lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place on a platter and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan. Serve immediately.

Notes

For this recipe, I don't place the broccolini in an ice bath once it's cooked as I'm usually serving this right away. If I were going to hold the dish for a few minutes, I'd prepare a bowl with ice and water and let the broccolini rest for a few minutes in the ice bath after cooking, before tossing it with pesto. If you do decide to let it rest in the ice bath, gently heat the pesto before tossing with the broccolini so the dish is warm when served.

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Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Grilled Summer Corn and Tomato Salad

Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad with Sliced Red Onions and Fresh Basil // Karista's Kitchen

This is the time of year I’m in food heaven. Summer produce is at its peak and it adorns my table with gorgeous color and delicious flavors, like this Grilled Corn and Summer Tomato Salad.  

Most of the plants in my garden are ready to harvest, with the exception of the few plants that have suffered little critter attacks, the heat and my apparent lack of gardening knowledge.  I was so excited about my little strawberry patch, only to walk out one morning and notice tiny teeth marks on my sweet red berries.  Darn bunnies. 🙁

I have a short list of plants I probably won’t attempt growing next year.  I have completely failed at sugar snap peas – and I love sugar snap peas.  Disappointment is looming.  I’m not sure what happened but I think I may have planted them in the wrong spot in the yard.  My knack for growing cauliflower never emerged this season… and then the white flies noticed the fledgling cauliflower hanging about and pretty much decimated what was left of the cauliflower crop.

I’ve had a few successes however.  I am awesome at growing greens!  Which is great because we eat loads of greens in my house.  Bok Choy, Spinach, Swiss Chard and Collards are being harvested daily.  My spring lettuce flourished as did the arugula.  Tomatoes will be ready soon and the cucumbers are popping out everywhere.  Another huge success are the peppers, which is making Ranger Craig very happy.  He could eat peppers daily.  And of course my herb garden is overflowing with the most beautiful and fragrant herbs.  Ok, so I have somewhat of a green thumb.  I believe it may be more determination than an actual green thumb. 🙂

Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad with Red onion and Fresh Basil in a Sherry Vinaigrette

The one vegetable I do wish I’d grown in my garden this year is corn –  so I could make this Grilled Corn and Summer Tomato Salad straight from my garden.  

Summer isn’t summer without corn. And well… potato salad, grilled ribs, grilled chicken, burgers, grilled stuffed peppers, macaroni salad and I could go on and on.  Maybe it’s the memories it evokes, noshing on corn on the cob with smears of butter on warm summer days, or watching my family dig into a bowl of this sweet corn and tomato salad.

Grilled summer corn and tomato salad is a staple on our summer table.  

It’s easy to prepare and it holds well in the fridge for up to 5 days.  Although it doesn’t last that long in my house.   Slightly sweet from the corn and a little tang of fresh cherry tomatoes combined with a little spice of sliced red onion and then topped with fresh and fragrant basil.  The simplicity of clean, fresh flavors shines through and is melded together by a little taste of char from the grilled corn.  Earthy, fresh, fragrant and most of all, delicious.

Cheers to a delicious and fun-filled summer!

Loads Of Love,

Karista

P.S. Having a little trouble with my print plugin but hopefully it will be fixed soon.  Thanks so much for your patience!

Grilled Summer Corn and Tomato Salad

Ingredients

5-6 cobs of fresh summer corn, husks peeled and rinsed

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped chiffonade (Julienne)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2-3 tablespoons sherry vinegar (start with 2 tablespoons and taste, if you need more add the extra tablespoon)

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Directions

Pre-heat the grill to 400F.  Brush each corn on the cob with a little oil and then wrap each corn on the cob in aluminum foil and place them on the grill.  Note: Some people like to soak the corn on the cobs in water for about 10-15 minutes prior to grilling.  But if the corn is fresh and kernels look plump, this step won’t be needed. I don’t typically soak my corn prior to grilling unless its end of the season and the kernels look less than plump.

Grill the corn for about 15-20 minutes, turning with tongs every five minutes to insure even cooking.  Once the corn is done, remove from the heat and let them rest for about five minutes.  Then unwrap the corn and let them rest another five minutes if they are too hot to handle.  Then scrape all the corn off the cob and place it in a bowl.

To assemble the salad, gently toss together the corn, tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, chopped Italian parsley and basil.  Whisk together the olive oil and sherry vinegar and then gently toss with the vegetables.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

This salad is fabulous when it’s had about 30 minutes to sit on the counter at room temperature.  This will allow all those delicious flavors to meld together.  Place any leftover salad in a covered container in the fridge for up to five days.

 

 

Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Salad vegetarian

Summer Garden Panzanella

Summer Garden Panzanella with Herb and Garlic  Croutons // Karista's Kitchen

The scent of summer is laced in the warm evening breeze that’s floating through my open kitchen window.  A familiar seasonal scent that conjures visions of lush salads, grilled stone fruit, cherry pie and fresh made sangria.   Weekend evenings are spent shuffling between the garden and the kitchen, washing my fresh produce in preparation for dinner, while Spotify is playing softly in the background some of our new favorite summer music mixes.  Oh how I love these barefoot, slightly warm and breezy evenings.

For pre-dinner festivities, I set out a little tray of Bruno’s Crostini and Chianti wine for sipping while Ranger Craig and I are mingling in the kitchen chatting, laughing, and making dinner.

This evenings meal is simple and fresh.  A Summer Garden Panzanella Salad.  I call it a Summer Garden Panzanella because it’s not quite traditional in that it includes whatever is in season in my garden, along with the usual suspects of cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella.

On occasion I’ll slow roast the tomatoes and peppers for a richer, sweeter flavor and sometimes I simply slice it up fresh and toss it all together; using any additional fresh herbs I might have on hand.  I think Panzanella is best when served fresh, however, I always toast my bread cubes so the leftovers hold well one more day in the fridge (If by chance we have leftovers).

I’ve listed my basic recipe but you can certainly customize to your tastes.  Panzanella recipes can be found with all sorts of vinaigrettes, but I like it best with the traditional balsamic vinegar and olive oil with a splash of lemon.

Cheers to walking around barefoot, chilled sangria, warm breezes, summer sunshine and all things delicious from the garden!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Summer Garden Panzanella

Serving Size: 4-6

Summer Garden Panzanella

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf ciabatta, focaccia, or your favorite loaf, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1-2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sliced fresh red, yellow or orange peppers (optional)
  • 1 cup baby asparagus tips (optional)
  • 1 cup sliced cucumber (optional)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red or sweet onion (optional, for a little zing)
  • 1 container of small mozzarella balls (Bocconcini)
  • 1 large bunch of fresh basil, chiffonade or chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon
  • Good quality aged balsamic vinegar
  • Good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Grated parmesan for garnish

Instructions

Heat the oven to 350F.

In a small saucepan gently heat the olive oil. When the oil is warm but not too hot, add the garlic and salute for one minute.

Toss the garlic oil over the bread cubes and then spread the bread cubes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for just about 5-10 minutes, until toasty but not too hard.

Remove the bread from the oven and sprinkle the cubes with a bit of salt. Your kitchen will smell so good by now!

While you are letting the bread cubes cool, assemble the salad.

Gently toss the fresh veggies with the basil and mozzarella and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and splash of lemon. Then toss in the bread cubes and drizzle the salad with vinegar and oil, tossing to combine. Serve with fresh grated parmesan.

You can serve the salad immediately or let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Because the bread is toasted, this salad holds well.

Notes

Serve this salad as a lunch or light dinner or pair it with your favorite grilled fish, chicken, pork or beef.

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Appetizers Breakfast Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian VRAI Magazine

Avocado and Watercress Salad with Edible Flowers

Avocado Watercress Salad with Edible Flowers // Karista's Kitchen

There is nothing quite like a beautiful salad. The color, the scent of fresh greens and produce, all collectively creating edible art on a plate.

 Not only is this Avocado and Watercress Salad impressive in presentation, but it’s mouth-watering delicious in taste.  

Fresh avocado and watercress tossed with a light lemon vinaigrette, gently stacked and then topped with brilliantly colored edible flowers.

 

Spring Vegetable Strata // Karista's Kitchen and VRAI Magazine

The Avocado and Watercress Salad is simple to prepare – either with round food rings or you can layer the salad on a platter or on individual plates.   This salad is so delicious served with either a quiche or this lovely Spring Vegetable Strata I created for VRAI Magazine.  The fresh flavors of the avocado and peppery watercress pair beautifully with eggs dishes or even a spring lamb chop or roasted rack of lamb would be lovely.

A gorgeous table of food for Mother’s Day brunch or any casual weekend entertaining.  I often serve the strata for Sunday breakfast and fancy it up with the salad if I’m serving it for brunch.  However you decide to serve these dishes, your guests will be completely delighted. Especially if there is a Mimosa sitting next to the plate!

Wishing you all a beautiful and delicious week!

Loads of Love,

Karista

Avocado and Watercress Salad with Edible Flowers

Serving Size: 4

Avocado and Watercress Salad with Edible Flowers

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch watercress, thin stems and leaves only
  • 2-3 large firm but ripe avocados, diced
  • ½ to 1 cup edible flowers (usually purchased in the fresh herb section of a market)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon, about 3 tablespoons
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 3-4 inch round food molds, if desired (optional). If you don’t have food molds, a washed and dried tuna with both ends removed will also work.

Instructions

Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, sugar and water. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, gently toss the diced avocados with a splash of the lemon vinaigrette. In a seperate bowl, gently toss the watercress with a splash of lemon vinaigrette. The watercress will wilt quickly once it’s dressed with vinaigrette so don’t dress the watercress until right before serving. The avocado should be dressed with vinaigrette as soon as it’s been diced.

If using food molds (or tuna cans), brush the inside with a little olive oil. Set each mold on a plate. Divide the avocado among the plates. Press the avocado firmly into the mold. Next, press the watercress into each mold. Gently remove the molds. It’s ok if the watercress falls, it will still look beautiful. Drizzle a little more vinaigrette over each salad if desired and once last pinch of salt and pepper.

Garnish each salad with edible flowers and serve.

If you’d like to make the salad without molds, layer the avocado on plates, top with watercress and then the edible flowers.

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Red Quinoa Lunch Salad

Red Quinoa Lunch Salad // Karista's Kitchen

You know that salad you’ve always got to have on hand, stocked in the fridge, or someone in the family just might have a meltdown?  Yep, that is this salad.

I first dined on this salad at my favorite co-op market in Seattle many years ago, PCC Natural Markets.  Not only did I work as a cheese specialist at PCC Natural Markets, but I also taught culinary classes at their IACP award winning culinary school, PCC Cooks, for four years.  A fantastic group of professionals committed to our community farms, quality food and nutrition. I couldn’t have asked for a more gratifying place to work.  I met the loveliest and most interesting people, including fellow chef’s, nutritionists and culinary instructors.  Some are now dear friends – I love it when that happens!

This red quinoa salad was always served in the deli at my local PCC Natural Market.  I never left the store without a medium container filled to the brim with this salad.  Sometimes I’d hide it in the back of my refrigerator when I got home; so I could at least sneak a few bites before the rest of my family found it and devoured it.

Red Quinoa Lunch Salad // Karista's Kitchen

I now live about 275 miles south of the nearest PCC Natural Market – so I make this salad at home.  I snagged this recipe (called Red Quinoa Tabouli on the website) and ended up adapting it a bit to suit my family’s tastes.  My family dubbed it the “Red Quinoa Lunch Salad” because that’s usually when everyone wants to eat it;  at lunch.

My family has also been known to add extra ingredients like Italian salami, sweet peppers, bay shrimp, grilled chicken and on occasion Ranger Craig will toss it with some smoked salmon.  However it’s served it’s nutty, fragrant, full of flavor and so completely satisfying.

Wishing you all a fantastic weekend.  Don’t forget to move the clock forward one hour! I’m already feeling sleep deprived just thinking about it.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Red Quinoa Lunch Salad

Serving Size: 4-6

Red Quinoa Lunch Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups dry red quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 1/3 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Avocado slices for garnish

Instructions

In a medium pan bring the 2 1/3 cups water to a boil. Add the quinoa and bring it back to a boil. Cover, turn the heat down to low and simmer for about five minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the quinoa sit for another five or ten minutes until the quinoa has sprouted or is cooked. Drain well, if needed. Cool in the refrigerator.

Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, minced garlic, Dijon mustard and sugar. Toss the vinaigrette with the quinoa and then add the lightly fold in the green onions, cilantro, cucumbers and tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Let the salad sit overnight or for a few hours so the flavors can meld together. Serve cold or at room temp.

Garnish with Avocado slices.

Notes

This recipe was slightly adapted from the PCC Natural Markets Red Quinoa Tabouli.

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Butter Braised Belgian Endive

Butter Braised Belgian Endive // Karista's Kitchen

Braising seems to be the essential winter cooking technique – whether it be a slow braised ragu on the stove top or an oven braised Irish Beef Stew.  Braising creates the loveliest and most intense flavors in many types of meat, poultry, veggies and even seafood.  Not too mention, all that oven heat warms up the house and infuses every room with the scent of comfort.

Braising is definitely a preferred method of cooking for those tougher cuts of meat. It slowly breaks down the connective tissue creating a succulent texture, while bathing in sumptuous liquid and aromatics.  Braising is also a fantastic cooking method for vegetables.  Some vegetables I much prefer roasted, but many vegetables can be braised; such as leeks, root veggies, radicchio and my favorite, Belgian Endive.

Butter Braised Endive // Karista's Kitchen

I always begin with high quality butter.  Braising with butter allows the endive to caramelize and then creates a bit of creaminess to the dish. The end result is a bit toasty, sweet, savory and although still some firmness to the endive, it melts like butter on the taste buds.

This is the perfect side dish to a slow cooked roast or chicken.  Although, this makes an excellent light lunch. Which is what happened to these little lovelies.  I couldn’t resist. Buttery, sweet and delicious!

Butter Braised Belgian Endive // Karista's Kitchen

Has it been a good first week of the new year for you?  Although it’s been a productive first week for me, I feel like I’ve been moving at mach speed with long lists to accomplish, phone calls to return, work planning to complete and workouts to squeeze in somewhere.  I did manage to stay on task and nourish my body with my 30 days of yoga plan and Tank got his walk every morning.  Honestly, he doesn’t give me a chance to forget.  Tank follows me all over the house pretending to sneeze every now and again – reminding me we haven’t taken our walk.  He’s a funny dog.

Happy Weekend!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Butter Braised Belgian Endive

Serving Size: 4

Butter Braised Belgian Endive

Ingredients

  • 4 Belgian Endive, organic or pesticide free, washed and dried
  • 4 knobs of quality butter, salted or unsalted (about 4 tablespoons) diced (I admit, I'm not terribly precise with the butter - sometimes I might use a bit more)
  • Squeeze of lemon, about one tablespoon
  • Sprig or two of fresh thyme (optional)
  • A Dutch oven or oven proof pot with a lid
  • Salt and Pepper (sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper work well here)

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Snip the root ends of the endive, being careful not to snip off too much as we want them to stay together when we slice them in half. Next slice each endive lengthwise in half making eight halves.

Place the Dutch oven stove top over medium heat and melt a few pieces of the diced butter. Once it's melted, take it off the heat and place the endive halves in a single layer in the bottom of the Dutch oven.

Next, toss in the remaining butter, squeeze of lemon, sprig of thyme if using, evenly over the top of the endive. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the Dutch oven and place it over the endive. Cover the pot and place it in the oven for about 45-50 minutes.

When the endive are done, discard the thyme and gently transfer them from the Dutch oven to a platter and season to taste with a bit more salt if desired. Serve immediately and relish the deliciousness!

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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Mixed Greens and Mandarin Orange Salad with Candied Nuts

Mixed Greens with Mandarin Oranges, Candied Nuts and Parsley Vinaigrette // Karista's Kitchen

Every new year I choose a “word” for the year.  It’s a word to reflect on and possibly keep me on track or aspire to.

Last year I chose two words. I couldn’t decide.  My husband would tell you the word “Decisive” should have been thrown into the collection.  (I’d like to believe “indecisive” just means that I think creatively.  My husband loved that explanation.)

However, I felt in some way, both words I chose reflected my thankfulness for friends and family and reminded me how much I value the people in my life.  Connect and Listen.  That last one is a toughie.  And I bet you’re asking yourself “how’d that workout for you Karista?”  Let’s just say I felt fairly successful at staying connected.   “Listen” is a forever word.  For me, a word that will be a continuous work in progress.  I hope to master it someday.  Not just listening to others, but listening to myself.  Sometimes we know best, we just don’t listen.

 

Mixed Greens with Mandarin Oranges, Candied Nuts and Parsley Vinaigrette// Karista's Kitchen

This year I chose the word “Nourish”.  It’s the very foundation of this blog. It’s why I made the decision to go to culinary school 15 years ago; it’s why I decided to change career paths; it’s why I decided I wanted to teach home chefs the secrets to cooking well at home. It’s why I decided to share with you my most loved recipes. Recipes that are creative, sometimes playful, achievable and always delicious. Recipes that bring me joy – putting a smile on my face and on my taste buds.

Nourish is also the word that reminds me to support and encourage, to cherish and strengthen – Not only my family and friends but myself as well.

The new year is about nourishing my mind with new ideas, creativity, new books to read and new techniques to master.

The new year is about nourishing my body with whole foods, supporting local agriculture and yes, more exercise with more time spent outdoors.

The new year is also about nourishing my soul – with more quiet time, more time with friends and family, more time spent listening.  Ah… we’re back to that word again.

In this busy world of ours it’s so easy to forget to nourish ourselves.  Despite what our busy minds tell us, it’s not a selfish act; it’s an act of love for those around us. If we’re nourished and feeling happy and healthy, we’re better able to care for those we cherish.

I realize it’s easy to say that now while I’m sitting here at my computer – first day back from a refreshing winter break.  I know it will be much harder to achieve when the work deadlines are looming and the family is pacing in front of my office door because they’re hungry and in need of dinner.  But I vow to nourish myself so that I can support and cherish others.  Including you!

This is going to be one DELICIOUS year.  I’m excited about all the new recipes, classic recipes revised and revisited, recipes to make your dinner hour easier and recipes that will nourish, enlighten and delight!

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

This is a refreshing salad with the most delicious combination of flavors.  Don’t let the simplicity fool you! For a quick meal, I pair this salad with grilled or pan seared shrimp, scallops, salmon or chicken.

A dear friend made this salad for me years ago.  She’s no longer with us in person, but she will always be with me in spirit.  Thanks C!

Mixed Greens and Mandarin Orange Salad with Candied Nuts

Serving Size: 2-3

Mixed Greens and Mandarin Orange Salad with Candied Nuts

Ingredients

  • 4-5 cups of your favorite washed greens. I like a mix of seasonal greens.
  • 1/3 cup assorted chopped nuts (pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, whatever you like)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • one sheet of wax paper or aluminum foil
  • 1 cup mandarin orange slices, or more to taste
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions/green onions (I like about 1/3 cup. I love green onions and they are excellent for gut health)
  • For the vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Place the greens in a bowl. Reserve.

If you don't have wax paper, grease aluminum foil or parchment paper with oil. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add the sugar to the skillet. Just when the sugar begins to turn into liquid, add the nuts and quickly stir. Take the pan off the heat and pour the candied nuts in a single layer onto the greased foil or parchment or the wax paper. Let them cool and then break into small pieces.

Next, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey and Italian parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss the greens with the vinaigrette and then transfer to a salad bowl or platter, or individual plates. Top the greens with the sliced scallions/green onions, mandarin oranges and garnish with candied nuts. Serve immediately.

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Karista's Kitchen Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

Sassy French Lentils

French Lentils with vegetables or squash

What a summer it’s been.  Another move, a bit of travel, family visits, lots of delicious recipes tested and photographed, a new driver in the family, our college student returning to the city soon and Tank and I found new trails to run, cows and chickens to photograph and juicy ripe blackberries to snack on while we’re supposed to be running.  I think Tank loves the blackberry breaks more than me.

Life is in perpetual motion and although this is a good thing, there are moments I need to put on the brakes, settle into a comfy chair and enjoy a quiet moment.  Hopefully with something tasty to sip – and always with a good book.  This does not happen often enough unfortunately, but today, I find myself scheming to find that moment in the near future.  I think you should to!  My little soapbox speech for the day. 🙂

Mirepoix for French Lentils

I’m in a bit of a sassy mood (can you tell?) and in honor of my sassiness, I’m posting this sassy little French lentil recipe.  Lentils have never thrilled my culinary taste buds – they’ve always just been there.  A side dish or ingredient that has useful qualities.  Mashed and blended with other exciting ingredients into lentil cakes or stirred into soups and stews to create a hearty texture.  Sometimes I’ll toss them into salads for extra texture and protein but I think I love them best prepared in the French style.

French Lentils with vegetables or squash

This is a recipe I can get excited about.  Layering flavor after flavor and then combining all those lush flavors with the lentils and summer vegetables makes for the loveliest entrée or side dish.   This dish is so simple and so delicious, I often pair it with grilled salmon or steak.  My oldest gal adores this dish a la carte, 0ften taking the leftovers for lunch.

So, my friends, plan a quiet moment with something tasty to sip, a good book…  and make yourself some Sassy French Lentils.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,

Karista

Sassy French Lentils

I use organic canned lentils for time sake, but feel free to use dried lentils that have been cooked.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 red onion, diced

2 anchovies

1 medium carrot, diced

1 rib celery, diced

3 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 3 inch sprig rosemary

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

1 cup diced summer tomatoes (or canned)

1 15 ounce can organic lentils or 2 cups cooked lentils

1 teaspoon Dijon or stone ground mustard (optional)

Squeeze of  lemon juice

Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Add ins:  sliced roasted or grilled summer squash and zucchini, eggplant, green beans, corn and any other summer vegetable you adore, just stir them in or layer them on top of the finished dish.  If preparing this dish Fall/Winter I love to stir in diced roasted sweet potato or butternut squash.

Directions

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat and when it’s hot, but not smoking, add the onions, anchovies, carrots and celery.  Sauté until the veggies are nice and soft.

Then stir in the garlic and sauté for one minute longer.

Next stir in the rosemary, thyme, Italian parsley, oregano, tomatoes and lentils.  Let them heat through and then simmer on low for about 10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove the sprig of rosemary and then stir in the Dijon or stone ground mustard, squeeze of lemon juice (about a teaspoon), and drizzle of olive oil.  Continue to simmer on low for another 5-8 minutes.

Take them off the heat and let them sit covered while you prepare the rest of your meal.  Or let them sit for about 5 minutes to allow all the flavors to meld together.  Taste for seasoning before serving.

If you are pairing the lentils with veggies, ladle the lentils onto a platter and then top with the veggies.  If using diced roasted sweet potato or butternut squash, I like to gently fold those into the lentils and then ladle onto a platter.

Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley and dollops of plain Greek yogurt.

Serve with lemon wedges if desired.

Bon Appetit!