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Talking Story

Talking Story





Revitalizing Breadfruit

Revitalizing Breadfruit

"The Ho'oulu ka 'Ulu Project.“

Ho'oulu ka 'Ulu is a project to revitalize 'ulu (breadfruit) as an attractive, delicious, nutritious, abundant, affordable, and culturally appropriate food which addresses Hawai'i's food security issues. It is well known that Hawai'i imports about 90% of its food, making it one of the most food insecure states in the nation. Additionally, since the economic downturn of 2008, many families lack access to affordable and nutritious food. We believe that breadfruit is a key to solving Hawaii's food security problems.

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Cooking from the Garden

Workshop participants prepare food harvested from the garden at Mala'ai
Workshop participants prepare food harvested from the garden at Mala'ai

On Saturday, May 1, 2010, the Mala'ai Culinary Garden at the Waimea Middle School hosted a workshop entitled, “Cooking from the Garden.” The workshop promised that participants would learn some tasty, healthy recipes and eat delicious food right out of the garden—and did we ever!

The director and mainstay of the garden is Amanda Rieux who at one time worked with Alice Waters' Edible School Yard in Berkeley, California for four years. The workshop was the fifth in a series presented by the garden this spring and was skillfully facilitated by Amanda, Matilda Tompson and Cerila Balberde with the assistance of Alethea Lai.

As we first toured the garden, visually feasting all our senses on the palette of colors, smells and tastes that surrounded us, we learned the names of all the plants and their uses and tasted leaves and edible flowers.

Mixed garden greens.
Mixed garden greens.

For our lunch menu, we harvested cassava (Manihot esculenta, or as I know it, yuca), and both purple and creamy yellow ‘uala (sweetpotatoes), an assortment of greens, including amaranth, kale, sweetpotato greens, collards, basil, bok choy and tatsoi, and fresh-laid eggs gathered from the garden’s newest addition…the resident hens in the two new chicken coops.

Work tables and a couple of portable stoves had been set up outside the main building and everyone was put to work washing greens, peeling and chopping veggies, making the arugula pesto, mixing the dipping sauces and finally cooking the garden bounty. With the participation of all of us and a bit of fresh garden magic, Amanda whipped up a simple, bountiful and delicious menu, which had all of us patting each other on the back before we sat down to eat.

After the meal and while some of the group cleaned and washed up, a few of us helped weed and mulch some of the beds as we “sang for our supper”...

The weather couldn't have been nicer and the day was perfect in every way!

“Cooking from the Garden” Menu

  • Kabocha Pumpkin and Fried Sage Leaves Sauté
  • Steamed 'Uala (sweet potato)
  • Tapioca (aka Cassava or Yuca) Pancake
  • Assorted Mixed Greens—Collards, Kale, Sweet Potato, Amaranth, Basil, Tatsoi and Bok Choy
  • Fresh Egg Omelet with Snippets of Chive Greens and Edible Flowers
  • Arugula-Pecan Pesto
  • Dipping Sauces

Arugula - Pecan Pesto

4 packed cups washed arugula - about 8 ounces


1 small garlic clove


1 cup chopped pecans (toasting optional)


1/4 teaspoon salt - or to taste


1 - 2 teaspoons lemon juice (or to taste)


1 - 2 tablespoons (packed measure) golden raisins (or more)


5 - 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (possibly more)

Place the arugula, garlic, pecans and salt in a food processor (or use mortar and pestle) fitted with the steel blade.  Pulse until pulverized, adding lemon juice and raisins as you go. Run the processor again, drizzling the olive oil in a steady stream. When it reaches the consistency you prefer, stop and transfer to a small container with tight-fitting lid. Taste to adjust seasonings. Cover the top of the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil to store.  Keep in refrigerator until needed.

Yields: about 1-1/3 cups

Source: "The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without" by Mollie Katzen, Hyperion Press

Dipping Sauce

Garlic Cloves


Chile Peppers


Sea Salt


Ginger (optional)


Cilantro or Parsley (optional)


Lime or Lemon juice (*)


Water - equal amount to lime juice

Smash garlic cloves, chiles and salt in a mortar with a pestle, to make a paste.  Add the ginger pieces and the cilantro or parsley, if using, and continue pounding it with the pestle until well incorporated.  Add the lime juice and water.  Mix well. Serve.

(*) If no lime or lemon is available use Balsamic vinegar

Sonia Martinez, is a cookbook author and freelance food writer for several publications in Hawai'i, including The Hamakua Times of Honoka’a, She is a contributing writer to Edible Hawaiian Islands Magazine and has her own food & garden blog at

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