Before I begin touting Molina tomatoes that aren’t even in season yet (I bet you gobbled up yours fresh last summer and forgot to can them?), I’d like to introduce you to Leftcoast Grassfed. They are a certified Grass fed beef company in Pescadero. If you’re wondering why my photo below is blury, it’s not because I was quickly trying to get out food to fifty people – oh no – the sight of these tasty links made me weak in the knees…

Leftcoast Grassfed Italian Beef Sausages with Cherry Powder

Leftcoast Grassfed Italian Beef Sausage, Piquillo Peppers, Molina Tomatoes

Leftcoast Grassfed has an ecological animal husbandry program that provides a sustsainable environment to raise cattle and also a committment to preserving the coastal farm lands. They give back to the community in countless ways including the creation and support of a hands-on healthy school meals program in Pescadero and La Honda. Please check out their website, I super like these cowboys & gals, at Leftcoast Grassfed.

I used Leftcoast’s mild Italian beef sausage for a recent event at Pie Ranch. Let’s just say the round of applause I received at the end of the dinner was really for the sausages. I roasted the links in Pie Ranch’s wood fire oven and served them over a piquillo pepper and Molina tomato sauce with a dash of smoked paprika (yes, I know, this is my go-to spice, I probably use is waaaay to much). The garnish is fried oregano and parsley from Del Sur Farm. They do have the best herbs…


Oregano from Del Sur Farm in Pescadero

The secret ingredient in the sausage is cherry powder which adds a burst of fruity acidity along with the traditional Italian herbs and spices. Seriously good. I can’t wait for cherry season.  I’d love to do these sausages with a cherry-zinfandel inspired sauce.

What was I saying about Molina tomatoes? Oh yes, you forgot to can them didn’t you? Couldn’t stop eating them raw, huh? And now – now you’re staring at that flavorless can of tomato sauce in the cupboard wishing you had just been a little less greedy? What? You don’t feel sorry one little bit? Shameless!


Last year’s Molina tomatoes – the little red ones

Molina tomatoes grow well on the coastal farms of Pescadero and Santa Cruz. They are small in size but pack intense flavor. I bite into them like apples. Especially when I get the chance to pick them right off the vine still warm from the afternoon sun – with a sprinkle of crunchy sea salt – Oh God, total juicy heaven.

However, if you didn’t can any, then you can sub regular old boring tomato sauce that tastes like metal. This year I will remind you to reserve a few for later. Our private event dinner of sausage heaven ended with the public barn dance at Pie Ranch. These dances are offered once a month and they are a lot of fun. Hope to see you there…



Pie Ranch Barn Dance Yeeeehaw!


Italian Sausage, Piquillo Pepper & Molina Tomato Sauce with Fried Herbs


  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 10 marinated piquillo peppers chopped (Ital Band is good)
  • 28oz homemade chunky molina tomato sauce, or substitute canned tomato sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves shaved on a mandonin, thin
  • Smoked Sweet Paprika to taste
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • 1 bunch fresh oregano
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 6 to 8 links Leftcoast Grassfed Italian Sausage
  • (sometimes I add a splash of sherry vinegar or redwine if the sauce needs a little more acidity)


For Sauce: In a large cast iron pan sauté onions until transluscent, add tomato sauce and piquillo peppers, shaved garlic. Cook for 15 minutes. Blend half of the sauce until smooth and add back to remaining sauce. Add smoked paprika and salt to taste. Sometimes I add a splash of sherry vinegar or red wine to give a little depth to the sauce.

Cook sausages over a fire (bbq? Pizza oven?) until juices run clear about 7 minutes. If making for a crowd, brown the sausages in a cast iron pan on the stove top and finish the cooking in the oven.

To fry herbs: Pick leaves off of stems and make sure they are dry. Heat 2-inches of peanut oil in a high sided pan or use a deep fryer. When temperature registers 350-375˚F, fry herbs in batches and remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain. WARNING: HERBS WITH SPATTER OIL SOMETHING TERRIBLE WHEN ADDED TO HOT OIL. STAND BACK. THIS IS DANGEROUS. Season herbs with salt just like you would french fries.

No joke, the oil will really splatter. But they look and taste great. It will make a big mess in your kitchen and I recommend having nothing else on or around the burners. No children in sight too. This is not something I like to do in my home kitchen unless I use my mini deep fryer.

Plate sauce in a deep dish bowl with sauges on top garnished with fried parsley and oregano.