Posted by: littlehouseonthebigisland | July 28, 2014

Hawaiian Pesto

ce2d4fe947733674169f9207f9e65448One of the things I delight in, and try to do every evening, is use food we grow to make dinner.  Or at least, food that is locally grown.  So it was a pleasant surprise to realize that last night only three ingredients did not come from Magic Mountain Farm: pasta, olive brine, and garlic.  Had I used our garlic grass instead of cloves it would have been two.

When woofers* leave, we have two traditions.  There isn’t always time and opportunity, but yesterday we were able to do both, with David who has been with us this summer, who is going back to the Mainland.  First he planted a native sandalwood tree, and second he got to request a favorite meal, which happened to be pesto with pasta.  When I realized that his ‘last supper’ would truly be a farm to table meal, it made me glad, because he has been such a good help and it seemed fitting that in one way or another he had contributed to dinner.

We harvest a lot of basil and freeze it.  The day I make pesto I take a bag out to thaw.  A ripe avocado from our farm contributes oil, a smooth consistency, and great flavor.  The macadamia nuts we grow are also loaded with fat, so to get the olive flavor, I use the brine (liquid in the jar) of Kalamata olives.  The lemon juice gives a nice contrast, something like grated cheese, especially for vegans and lactose intolerant folks.

HAWAIIAN PESTO4999830693_5d060d4a45

Prepare 1 c. nuts (see below) and set aside.

Into a blender or food processor put:

2 to 2-1/12 c. fresh packed or thawed frozen basil leaves and/or arugula**

1/2 c. Kalamata olive brine

Juice of 1 meyer lemon**

1 medium, ripe avocado**

2 whole cloves of peeled, crushed garlic (or a small bunch of garlic grass, rinsed and minced**)

Blend ingredients.  Be patient. This requires quick bursts if using a blender (v. a food processor), stopping, pushing down the ingredients with a spatula, and another quick burst with the blender, until the ingredients break down and begin to mix thoroughly. If the mixture is too stiff, add extra olive brine, 1 T. at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

Add to the blender/food processor:

1 c. macadamia nuts,** coarsely ground.Screen shot 2014-07-28 at 12.25.36 PM

Pine nuts and walnuts are good, too, but are not locally grown, and cost a fortune. Use a clean electric coffee grinder or food processor to make a coarse ‘meal’ of the nuts, set it aside, then add them to the blender mixture when all of the other ingredients are thoroughly ground and blend some more until smooth.

Yield:  About 2-1/2 to 3 cups pesto.

Prepare 1-2 lbs. of your favorite pasta, according to package instructions.

Serve pasta hot.  Put out small bowls of Kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, and a hard grated cheese (such as Parmesan).  Pesto is also good with eggs and on toast. Leftover pesto can be stored in a carton in the refrigerator or frozen in an ice-cube tray and the cubes put in a plastic bag in the freezer.


Shown above, macadamia nuts with a ‘cracker’ that is specially designed for their unique round shell. Go to the link for more information about this image.

* workers on organic farms

** grown on Magic Mountain Farm


  1. Beautiful recipe and photos to round out a perfect story. We could imagine you and everyone at the end of the meal, smiling. The tradition of the tree planting moved us deeply. We understand that it means that the farm has the ability to stand the test of time. We plant small things here but don’t expect that they will survive the waves of chaos in the fast changing cityscape. Every tree here amazes me. How strong and rare some are. The pine tree in the little front yard, the hungry thirsty living green in the dry neighborhood. Funny to admit that we love and worry about all of them. Seems like the idea that someone else will take the time to care for the living things here is the hardest part of letting go of this time and place. Love to all.

  2. Yum I love pesto! This recipe sounds unique and beautiful. I look forward to learning more hawaiian style everything. Ps we still have huge jokes about mosquitos ahhh the sun ahh redheads covered with itchy burning bumps and are melting run! Lol and then we remember, did someone say cat’s? Is that Charlotte? We love this place! Lol.

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