Brown bag meals: Versatile, portable pasta


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We know that as a busy nurse, you may not have time to comb through recipe books to find dinner ideas, brown-bag lunch options or a tasty dessert for your neighborhood potluck. That’s why we’re sharing some of our favorite recipes—along with a complete list of ingredients—to make the job easier. Just print and go!

Buying locally grown, seasonal fruits and veggies is not only good for you, it’s also an eco-friendly choice and a great way to support your community. Markets are overflowing with colorful arrays of fresh fruits and vegetables right now—and the best part is that very little work is required to turn this harvest into wonderful, tasty dishes!

Tomatoes, for instance, are bursting onto the scene. From your local grocery or farmer’s market—or perhaps from your own garden—tomatoes of every shape and size are ready for your table or lunchbox. The recipe listed here offers you multiple options: a quick meal that can easily be prepared after a long shift; a perfect brown-bag lunch option for work; a savory side to any barbecue dish; or a hearty entrée when you toss in leftover chicken, beef, pork or shrimp.

Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes
1 package penne, rotini or bow-tie pasta
¼ cup + 2 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves
5 plum tomatoes cored and chopped, or 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
8 fresh basil leaves
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Optional: one 6-ounce can olives, diced

Cook pasta according to package directions. While cooking, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté about one minute. Add tomatoes and cook only until heated through (about two minutes). Add the cooked pasta and remove pan from heat. Toss in the cheese, basil and olives. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Can be served warm or refrigerated and served cold.

Your ingredient list:
1 box pasta (penne, rotini or bow-tie)
8 ounces mozzarella (not shredded)
5 plum tomatoes or 1 container cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 small bunch fresh basil leaves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese
Optional: one 6-ounce can black olives
Optional: meat, chicken, shrimp

We hope you’ll share some of your favorite recipes with us so we can post them for other readers to enjoy. Please send your recipe—and a couple of sentences about why you love it—to he***@sc*******.com. Bon appétit!

Anita Bruzzese
Anita Bruzzese is an award-winning journalist. Her book, 45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy...And How to Avoid Them, was named one of the top 10 most notable business books by the New York Post in 2007. For more information, visit her Website at

An inspirational long-term care RN

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