Monthly Archives: September 2015

Pasta di Janet

Growing up, my mom made my family quite a bit of pasta for dinner, being herself a 2nd generation Italian-American; and it was glorious. I remember being in high school, coming home starving from various practices and rehearsals, only to be fulfilled by a bowl of one of my mother’s pasta dishes. This particular dish, which I have deemed Pasta di Janet (Pasta of Janet- my mother), became a staple in our home because of its general healthy ingredient contents and for its ease and simplicity.

This quick and flavorful pasta combines hot (Chicken) Italian Sausage, sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes, green and earthy broccoli/broccolini, fresh herbs, and of course, parmesan cheese. I fell in love with this pasta and often requested it for the dinner table. I now make it quite often when I am looking for a go-to meal. Already a decently healthy meal, I have made my own tweaks to my mother’s classic pasta (like switching from regular Italian sausage to chicken Italian sausage) to create a dish that is equally as nourishing as it is indulgent. Serve with a nice green salad and red wine and you are in for an Italian delight!

Pasta di Janet

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound farfalle pasta
  • 1 pound hot Chicken Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 2 small heads broccoli or 1 large package Italian broccolini
  • 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat a large pan or skillet or medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the sausage and break into small chunks with the back of a wooden spoon. Once the sausage is broken up, add the pasta to the water and allow to cook for 8-10 minutes until al dente.

Cook sausage until browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add the tomatoes and garlic to the sausage. Cook 2-3 minutes until tomatoes soften. Meanwhile, add the broccoli or broccolini to the pasta water. Boil 2 minutes. Using a straining spoon, transfer the broccoli to the pan with the sausage and tomatoes. Stir to combine and season the mix with a pinch of salt and pepper each and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low and allow to continue cooking until pasta is done.

Drain the pasta, add to the pan on top of the veggies and sausage. Add the cheese and half the parsley. Toss till pasta is coated and all is well mixed. Serve into pasta bowls. Top with additional parmesan cheese and herbs and serve.

Lemon Herb Quinoa with Greens

Quinoa has really made it big these days; and I am ALL about it! Quinoa is often described as a grain, but it is technically the seed of a grain. As a seed, it packs a ton of protein, making this a great choice for a carb/starch side in place of the usual rice, pasta, and potatoes. I am often asked how to prepare quinoa; and I always tell people that it is kind of absurdly easy.

Here is the basic formula for cooking quinoa:

  • 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water
  • Bring to a boil over high heat in a small sauce pan, then reduce heat to low and cover
  • Cook for 15-20 minutes
  • Fluff with a fork and Done!

Now, that you know how to cook quinoa through, you can basically do ANYTHING with it. Still, you might want a starter recipe; this Lemon Herb Quinoa with Greens recipe is for you! It makes the perfect side to almost anything. Hope you enjoy!

Lemon Herb Quinoa with Greens

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: absurdly easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup spinach, kale, or power greens mix, roughly chopped.

Directions:

Place the quinoa, water, and salt in a small pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until the quinoa has absorbed the water and the quinoa has puffed, 15-20 minutes. Fluff with fork.

While the quinoa cooks, mix the lemon zest, juice, olive oil, pepper, and crushed garlic in a small bowl.

Once you’ve fluffed the quinoa, add the basil, parsley, and chopped greens. Mix until the greens are wilted. Add the lemon and oil mixture into the bowl and toss. Season with additional pepper and serve.

Tell me, how do you make your quinoa?

Johnny Goes to Paris!

Hello, or I guess I should start saying, Bonjour!, because I am headed to Paris today! I will be exploring the city of lights over the next week as it has always been a top destination of mine. And bonus! I am even taking a quick side trip to Munich, Germany to meet some friends at THE Oktoberfest! Lots of adventures ahead!

Travel is something I am incredibly passionate about. In fact, I find myself dreaming all day at my desk at work about the different places I want to see in the world; there are just too many! I’ve reached a point in my life where I have decided to stop waiting for the right time to travel. I am only young and single once so I have decided to make the time and just go for it as much as I possibly can.

Last year, I went all over Italy, and it was literally the greatest time I have ever had in my 24 years of life. I went by myself, but hopped onto a great tour titled “Simply Italy” through Contiki Holidays, and it was there that I made a host of new friends and lifelong memories. Check out my guest blogs for Contiki here:

As I travel to Paris now, I travel alone once more. This time, there is no tour to hop on. I think there is much to be said about traveling alone; you are forced to be by yourself and figure out what the venture throws at you on your own, while at the same time you are also free to meet new people and quite possibly even new friends.

I am simply going to wander and see what this historic and iconic city that is Paris has for me. I honestly couldn’t be more excited. I feel so free and invigorated to be embarking on this journey.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram: @johnnylapasta I can guarantee you that you will see many, many snap shots of my trip! You can also keep up with me by searching the hashtag #johnnynparis which I will be using to tag all of my photos.

I am sure I will have lots to blog about upon my return to the States! But for now, au revior!

Being Whole On Your Own

The world of relationships and love is a strange and confusing one; this we all know to be true. I myself have not had an exuberant amount of luck in this area. While I have dated and have had girlfriends, I have not been so lucky as many of my friends who have found young love that would appear to be the kind that will last. Even though my time in the relationship and dating world has not been extensive and I have spent most of my early 20’s single, I feel I have made some important observations about relationships based on the ones I have seen and paid attention to as well as my own relationships. I believe that I have found a common theme in my relationship studies that can make or break a couple – whether or not the two beings involved in the relationship are whole and complete on their own.

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Balsamic Glazed Salmon

I love salmon, it really is one of the greatest fishes; it’s incredibly healthy, it’s decently affordable, and it’s freaking delicious. One thing I love about salmon is that it can be ABSURDLY EASY to make. Take my Balsamic Glazed Salmon. Minimal prep, no active cooking, and only a few minutes until it is s ready for you to plate and eat. I am always getting questions about how to make salmon; this is the best way to start! Hope you enjoy!

Balsamic Glazed Salmon

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: ridiculously easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless salmon slab
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Trader Joe’s Balsamic Glaze or similar product

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 ̊F.

Spray or oil a 9×13 inch baking dish. Place the salmon in the baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Herbs de Provence. Spread the crushed garlic all over the salmon. Drizzle with olive oil. Drizzle the balsamic glaze all over, and with a pastry brush, spread the glaze until even and the salmon is covered.

Bake for 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon. Cut into fillets and serve.

Twists and Transitions Yoga Class

After Labor Day, we enter into a time of transition. Students and parents settle in for the school year, the fall season starts to change the colors of the trees and the temperature of the air, and everyone seems to buckle down for a different rhythm of life. The transition from the free and fun summer season to the more regimented and busy fall season can be tough.

In yoga, instructors often theme our classes to what is happening in the world at the present time in the hopes that the message and practice will help students with whatever they are facing off the yoga mat. At this time of year, I like to theme my classes to reflect this transitional time.

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Recipe Review: Tyler Florence’s Watermelon Gazpacho

Ciao friends! Are you a fan of the tasty, chilled Spanish soup known as gazpacho? Personally, I am a HUGE fan! Gazpacho is packed with fresh vegetables, is amazingly refreshing, and doesn’t even require cooking! For as much as I love gazpacho, however, there is one variant that I put off trying for a long time: Watermelon Gazpacho. This past Meatless Monday, I finally put myself up to the challenge and gave it a shot!

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