Easy Pasta a’ la Gioia – Happy Birthday Mom!

In honor of my pasta-loving mama’s birthday (she’s finally hit the “When I’m 64” age! Hope she doesn’t kill me for saying that…hope Paul McCartney sings that when we go see him in August so if she is mad, all will be forgiven)…I’m sharing with you my super easy pasta recipe for when you are feeling lazy and need/want carbs, but don’t want to go out, or go totally overboard.


1 package organic whole wheat pasta (Trader Joe’s has penne or fusilli that I like)

1 12-16 oz. package frozen organic broccoli florets (in my world, I call it broc)

1 cup grated parmigianno-reggiano (or as we Americans call it, Parmesan)

1 package organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil to taste, or texture depending

Kosher Salt

Pink Himalayan Salt (preferably freshly ground, though…I’ve never really seen it come any other way)

Black Pepper (preferably freshly ground)

Seasoning for the chicken (we used the Sweet Mesquite seasoning from Costco; 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe’s is yummy as well)

1 ginormous mixing bowl



Season your chicken breasts on both sides, with a little kosher salt and black pepper, plus your choice of seasoning

Grill them outside on a grill if you have one, inside on a grill pan (Lodge makes a nice cast-iron one that’s inexpensive) or on a Foreman grill if you have one of those doodads. Get the boyfriend to help if you have one of those. They like charring things, see?

My dude searing the chicken, as men do.
My dude searing the chicken, as men do.

While he’s doing that, or while you’re watching them do their thing, put the water on to boil for the pasta and throw the florets in a microwave proof dish to be zapped.  Salt the water with some of the kosher salt. Wait for the water to boil. Don’t watch it, or it might not do it 🙂

Once the major bubbles are happening in the water, throw in the pasta and cook according to the package directions (in this case, 10-12 minutes.) Then press start on the microwave so the broc will be ready around the same time. I know some people are totally against zapping things in there, but my life would be impossible without one, so there you have it.

Tend to the chicken. Once it’s reached about 170-175°F, remove it from the grill and let it sit a minute. We have a nifty thermometer to check, but if you don’t just make sure the insides are no longer pink before you take them off.

Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and set aside.  By this time the pasta should be about ready, so test it.  It should be al dente, but not rock-like. Taste-testing is fun.  Once it’s done, drain it and set aside.

The broc should also be done, so drain that and set it aside too.

See? It turns out a beautiful shade of green...
See? It turns out a beautiful shade of green…microwaves are awesome.

Now comes the fun part…take all of cooked ingredients and begin to layer them in your ginormous bowl.  I always start with the pasta, then the broc, then the chicken. At that point I add a little olive oil, and parm and start the layers again. When all the ingredients are in the bowl, toss it like a salad.  In fact, the bowl I use actually IS a salad bowl because it’s the only thing I have big enough to actually put it in.

Serve warm and sprinkle on a little Himalayan salt and fresh pepper to taste.  Enjoy the goodness. If you end up making it, tell me what you think!

Final product, cibo buono!
Final product, cibo buono!






By Joy

I'm 42, a remarried mom of an 8 year old girl and a toddler son, a teacher, and a writer. People tell me I tend to be brutally honest and ...tell it like it is, so I had hoped to use this outlet to keep me sane while I got used to my new life as a stay-at-home Mom back when I was home with my daughter....it worked. And it's been therapeutic through the end of a marriage and the emergence of me...


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