Aloha! We had a wonderful week at Hawaii during thanksgiving. It was also my daughter's first birthday. There is so much pressure on parents now a days to make your kids birthday special - don't you think? There are all these theme based parties to host, games and entertainment to provide during the party, theme based tablewares, buy perfect gift to the birthday kid, favors to trade for her friends and cakes to order..... the list of chores is endless. And for a kid who goes to daycare, repeat all of that for a daycare party - phew, just thinking about it was taxing enough. But still, we wanted to make it special being her first - something she will look back years later through the pictures and fondly cherish, so after days of mulling over we decided that a quiet beach-side cake cutting in the beautiful islands of Hawaii with Mommy-Daddy was a perfect plan for the special day! Not to mention Mommy-Daddy also needed a celebration for surviving the first year of being parents ;)
We rented an oceanfront condo with a fully-equipped kitchenette. The pantry however was very light consisting only of olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar and a few cookies. We were expected to grocery shop in the nearby village market and farmer's market and cook in the kitchenette. It sounded a lot of fun! I packed carefully - allocating a large ziplock in our suitcase for the dry pantry items brought from home so we can get away with buying a few vegetables at Hawaii and have a wonderful week-worth of meals. I packed a serving of dried lentils for lentil soup, a serving of rice for my favorite vegetable spiced rice and two servings of dried bowtie pasta for pasta salads.
I kept pasta salad for last hoping to use various remaining ends and scrapes of the produce in the salad before we leave the island. A large bunch of cauliflower was sitting around so I thought I'll make roasted cauliflower pasta - but I guess the bountiful beaches and gardens of Hawaii had another plan in store for my pasta salad :)
Okay, now I know I am making up a name for my make-do recipe - but really calling this just a regular pasta salad would be such a cliche. Besides, the recipe is not only inspired by Hawaii but is also made of ingredients gathered on beaches and lush gardens of Hawaii and so the name Aloha Pasta Salad!
We spent afternoon relaxing on a beach underneath a large mango tree. Though it was off-season, the tree was laden with unripe mangoes (kairi) and quite a few had fallen down. We foraged for a few which had fallen down. Then we met a coconut vendor and bought a large fresh coconut - after thoroughly enjoying the fresh coconut water, we then took our coconut back to the vendor who took out all the tender yummy flesh - some of which went down our tummys while the rest was used up in this salad.
The recipe is very simple:
- Pre-heat oven to 420F.
- Chop cauliflower into small florets and roast cauliflowers for 30mins with olive oil, crushed chili flakes and generous pinch of pepper (flipping them over once in between). When the cauliflowers are roasted and edges are golden brown, remove from oven and set aside.
- Cook your favorite dried pasta (preferably bowtie) al-dante per package instructions
- Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper over dried pasta. Add roasted cauliflower and chopped celery, 2 tomatoes, finely chopped fresh coconut flesh.
- Make a vinigerate of olive oil, grated or very finely chopped raw mangoes, lemon juice and salt & pepper.
- Mix everything together. Taste - adjust the seasonings and enjoy!
The pasta tasted so good; the addition of coconut while thought questionable at first really gave the pasta a bit of crunch and fattiness and the raw mangoes work themselves very well in the vinegerate with their acids. Overall a great meal with foraged ingredients that usually don't go along together.
While at Hawaii we also visited a taro festival. Taro is a tropical root vegetable which grown in abundance in parts of Hawaii. In Marathi taro is called alakudi - it is made into a simple sabji quite like batatyacha kaap. It was great wandering through reading about taro culture and tasting different kinds of taro along-with!
Happy new year everyone! May the new year bring lots of happiness, health, success, joys and smiles to you and your loved ones and may all your wishes be fulfilled. See you in the new year!