Author Karista Bennett ##Photo provided

Intentional Ingredients

Cookbook illuminates artisan producers

By Annelise Kelly

Oregon reigns secure on the culinary map, thanks to the prodigious synergy of talented chefs with access to incredible ingredients. From seaside to pasture, field to vineyard, dedicated and passionate producers coax world-class products from Oregon’s varied landscapes, inspiring kitchens, large and small.

Chef Karista Bennett, endlessly inspired by Oregon’s edible abundance, soon will release her new book, “The Oregon Farm Table Cookbook: 101 Homegrown Recipes from the Pacific Wonderland” (Countryman Press, September 2020).

Raised in Arkansas on a small family hobby farm, Bennett’s parents nourished her appreciation for farm-fresh produce, homey food and the value of local farmers to both community and the table. After 11 years in Seattle, she migrated south with her family to the central Willamette Valley in 2013. In Oregon, she has since dived into local food culture, appearing as the regular on-air recipe expert for KATU’s “AM Northwest.”

The Oregon Farm Table Cookbook: 101 Homegrown Recipes from the Pacific Wonderland

Recognizing how behind every celebrated chef exist dozens of committed, hard-working producers, Bennett traversed the state interviewing those representing Oregon’s bounty. From major enterprises like Bob’s Red Mill, SakéOne and Rogue Ales, to family operations such as Double J Jerseys and Kirsch Family Farms, she met the people, learned their stories and welcomed their products into her kitchen and recipes. Each producer is featured on a page in the book, sharing their narratives alongside Bennett’s spectacular photography.

Celebrating Wine

“That’s the wonderful thing about Oregon: We have actually tried so many wineries it’s hard to even name them,” Bennett quipped. Some of her favorites include Abbey Creek Vineyard, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden, among others. “Cória Estates is in my backyard. I love them, and they’re lovely people,” she added.

For Bennett, incorporating wine into recipes remains second nature. “The culinary school I went to is French-inspired, so we used a lot of wines in our cooking. I’ve carried that over for the last 20 years,” she said.

One-Pan Fish Veronique is such a wine-inspired dish. “It’s a very simple recipe prepared with a white wine cream sauce and grapes. You can either grill or pan sauté your fish, and then just whip up the sauce, throw in those fresh grapes and fresh tarragon. It feels fancy, but it’s so simple,” Bennett said. She recommends a Chardonnay or Pinot Gris as a pairing. Other recipes featuring wine include Braised Lamb Shanks with Five Spice and Pinot Noir; Mushroom Bolognese; and Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Spice Dried Plum Sauce.

While visiting wine country, Bennett suggests packing a picnic. “Cória Estates has a beautiful lawn area, and the wine is lovely to pair with picnic food.” She also recommends Youngberg Hill and Sokol Blosser for scenic spots. Of course, it is essential to call ahead to confirm if picnics are encouraged by the winery.

To pack a simple summer picnic from her book, Bennett suggests starting with the Savory Beer Bread with Garlic and Fresh Herbs — smeared with butter — and the Summer Harvest Gazpacho served in canning jars. Follow the soup and bread with Roasted Summer Berries on Ricotta Crostini. “Place the roasted berries, ricotta and crostini in separate containers. Then when ready to serve, let everyone assemble individual crostini with smears of ricotta and topped with a dollop of roasted berries.” Finish with Sun Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Summer Bounty

Bennett, a lover of fresh produce, shows excitement about the arrival of summer and, yet, she says, “Every season is like a treasure box. It’s so important to support your farmer’s market and local food producers in your community. It’s crucial to keeping our small family farms alive.”

“I’m a big salad eater,” Bennett continued. “I love all the different things you can use… During the summer, I do a lot of buttermilk-based salad dressings. If I do use a vinegar-based dressing, I go easy on the vinegar and heavier on other ingredients, depending on which wine I am drinking. The seafood salad in the book has a mayonnaise-based dressing; it pairs well with Chardonnay or Pinot Gris.” Another favorite: fresh local corn. “I love making Mexican ‘elote’ corn, grilled and rolled in lime and cotija cheese.” The Mexican Corn and Tomato Salad in her book riffs on those flavors.

Summer fruit proves another seasonal bonus, especially berries. “They’re more versatile than people think,” she said. “Berry vinaigrette is a wonderful way to showcase the bounty. Bennett’s instructions: Reduce berries, strain and use the syrup as a base mixed with Champagne vinegar, shallots, extra virgin olive oil, herbs, and salt and pepper.

For a berry-centric backyard supper, she suggests starting with Oregon Cherry, Sautéed Onion and Goat Cheese Flatbread — grilled or pan cooked — followed by Grilled Flank Steak with Sautéed Blueberries and Shallots garnished with Blue Cheese, served with the Mexican corn salad. End the outdoor meal with easy no-bake Strawberries in Brandied Cream.

Gratitude for Producers

“We’re lucky to live here,” Bennett explained. “I spent about six months interviewing everyone in the book. I adore and admire all of them.”

In the book, you’ll learn about Red Bird Acres in Corvallis, an animal welfare-certified farm raising pork and chicken; Martson Farm in Molalla, which focuses on grass-fed and -finished Highland cattle; female-powered Lucky Crow Farm in Monmouth; and the Mushroomery in Lebanon.

After the social distancing orders of this spring, we’ve all had a season of cooking far more than usual. Take the opportunity to connect with some local purveyors at the farmers market or over the Internet, and feel inspired by chefs like Bennett and their appreciation for the beautiful, nourishing state of Oregon and all the resources it provides.


One-Pan Fish Veronique

Pan-Cooked Fish with Grapes & Tarragon

By Karista Bennett, “The Oregon Farm Table Cookbook”

Serves 4


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon dried tarragon

1½–2 pounds white fish

* salt and freshly ground  black pepper

1 cup heavy cream

¼ cup chicken broth

2–4 tablespoons ghee

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup white wine

½ to ¾ cup halved small green or red grapes, plus more for garnish, if desired

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon


Mix together flour and dried tarragon. Pat fish with paper towel and sprinkle fish with salt and pepper on both sides.

In small pan, mix together heavy cream and chicken broth, and warm over low heat. Remove from heat to rest.

Heat a skillet on medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons ghee. When ghee is hot and slightly smoking, dredge fish fillets through flour and tarragon mixture, and then dust off excess.

Place fillets in hot ghee and pan-sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, depending on thickness, and until each side is golden. Transfer pan-seared fillets to platter and keep warm. Add additional ghee as needed to finish cooking fish.

Cool skillet enough to wipe it slightly with a paper towel, getting any burnt crisps out of pan. Place skillet back over medium heat and add butter. When butter is melted, add shallot and cook until soft. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute longer.

Take pan off heat and stir in white wine. Set pan back over heat and let wine simmer for 1 or 2 minutes. Then add heavy cream mixture and grapes; let sauce reduce by half.

Take sauce off heat and add tarragon. Plate fish fillets and ladle sauce over fish, garnishing with extra grapes if desired. Serve immediately.

Web Design and Web Development by Buildable