Food & Drink

Jonathan Bardzik: Choose your own adventure… wisely

Who inspires you? The friend with the high-powered career? Maybe the one with the great body or the one with the hot boyfriend or girlfriend. Do you envy the life of the person who is always posting travel pics to Instagram or the one with the fabulous home? Before you begin your year with a resolution to follow in their footsteps or chase their success, I’ve got a little advice to share that was once given to me.

When I was finishing grad school I sat down with the dean of the business school and asked for any advice he had to share.  Dean O’Brien said to me, “Jonathan you are bright and hard working. You will succeed at what ever you set your mind to. However, before you set foot on that ladder take a closer look at the people on the top. Look at their jobs and their lives. Look at the peers they work with and the tasks that occupy their time. Look at their homes, their vacations and their family relationships. Is that the life you want to lead?”

His advice has served me well, which is why I share it with you. I’m not suggesting that a little inspiration isn’t a good thing, after all, an Italian classic and a craving for takeout inspired the Chinese shrimp scampi below, but make sure that what inspires your action will deliver the outcome you are truly seeking. And with that, I wish you great success at whatever you seek to achieve this year. May it bring great joy, grand adventures, and much love.

Chinese Shrimp Scampi

Serves 4

Read the directions through first. Stir-fries always seem like a lot of ingredients and a lot of work, but once you’ve got all the ingredients prepped the hard work is done and this will go together in just a few minutes.


  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 1 tbs toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (I like 31-35 count)
  • 3 scallions, slivered, whites and greens separate
  • Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 pound spinach
  • White pepper

For sauce:

  • 1/3 cup rice wine
  • lemon juice
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tbs tapioca or corn starch


  • Bring a 4 quart pot of water to a boil. Salt heavily and cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta and rinse under cold water. Toss with toasted sesame oil.
  • Mix together sauce ingredients.
  • Warm 1 tbs vegetable oil in a 12” skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add shrimp and cook until opaque, about 1-2 minutes per side. Reserve.
  • Return skillet to medium-high heat with remaining 1 tbs vegetable oil. Add scallion white parts and sauté 30 seconds. If using add red pepper flakes and cook 30 seconds longer. Add spinach and cook 30 seconds until lightly wilted. Add shrimp and pasta and toss through 1 minute until warm.
  • Stir sauce, add to pan and cook, tossing with ingredients, until it thickens to coat the pasta and shrimp. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and white pepper as needed. Serve garnished with scallion greens.

Jonathan’s cookbooks offer simple recipes prepared with farm and garden-fresh ingredients to share with the people – friends, family and farmers – who make our lives matter.

Bring one home today or share one with someone special, click here.

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Jonathan Bardzik

Jonathan Bardzik is a DC-based storyteller, cook and author of three books inspired by the fresh, seasonal ingredients he finds in the garden and at farm markets. Self taught, Jonathan seeks to inspire home cooks with the belief that life can and should be lived well, something we can do everyday by preparing and sharing simple, delicious food with those we love. Find over 250 recipes and short stories, Jonathan’s schedule of live appearances and his books at