Birthday pasta

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Birthday pasta

Michael Pollan's recent contribution to the New York Times magazine gives great advice. Eat food. Not too much. Mostly fruits and vegetables. Maybe he will write an essay on exercise. Get some most days of the week. Some is better than none. Walk faster than strolling. Check for good advice. 

I call this recipe "Birthday Pasta" because I first made it to celebrate a special day for someone very important to me. It can be made with chicken, salmon, fresh tuna, or canned tuna to suit your tastes.

While I like to get as many ingredients as possible from the local farmers' markets, some items I like to use occasionally are globally sourced. 90% of the garlic used in the United States comes from China. The Kalamata olives and capers are imported. But the beautiful sweet and sour Meyer lemons are local from a great friend's tree that just keeps on giving.

Pick up some fresh salad greens from the market to toss with red wine vinaigrette and you have a wonderful, quick, and simple dinner.

Servings: 2


  • 1/4 pound linguini or another one of the skinny pastas, regular or whole wheat
  • 1 half boneless, skinless chicken breast (or the equivalent amount of salmon, tuna or a can of tuna) sliced into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Meyer lemon, peeled and cut into thin slices and quartered, seeds removed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 kalamata olives, pitted, and cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
  • Handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil pasta according to directions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Sauté the chicken just until it is no longer pink. Season it with a little salt and pepper. Remember the olives and capers can add saltiness to the dish.
  3. Add the lemon, olives, capers, and garlic to the chicken and toss briefly until warm.
  4. Add the pasta and the parsley. Mix well. 

Eat this with a really big salad to make up for the fact there aren't many vegetables in the pasta dish.