Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kalua Pork & Cabbage Pasta with Lomi Tomato-Pineapple Salsa

I was having a craving for some Kalua Pork--a local dish where traditionally a pig is slow roasted in an underground pit until it is fall-apart tender and smoky from the fire. Of course unless it is a luau or a large, traditional family event, most people nowadays cook their kalua pig in the oven or a slow cooker, sometimes wrapped in banana or ti leaves and often with a little liquid smoke to recreate that smoky flavor. The shredded pork is usually served with cabbage here. I like to cook my pork butt and then use it for sandwiches, in quesadillas or tacos and lately I have been thinking it would be fun to create a pasta dish featuring the pork and cabbage.

I wanted the dish to have some brightness and acidity to work with the smoky flavor of the pork. At Whole Foods the other day, one of the produce guys was sampling chunks of local tomatoes and pineapple with a sprinkle of Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt, on toothpicks. I liked the combination and thought it would be fun to do a variation of it as a salsa to top the pasta. Lomi is a Hawaiian word meaning massage or crush and here it refers to the small diced pieces of tomato and pineapple in the salsa. (Plus it just sounds fun!) ;-)

My Kalua Pork & Cabbage Pasta with Lomi Tomato-Pineapple Salsa is a different and delicious take on some traditional dishes.

Kalua Pork & Cabbage Pasta with Lomi Tomato-Pineapple Salsa
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 6)

1 (12 ounce) package pasta (I used a whole whet penne)
1 Tbsp olive oil + 1 Tbsp sesame seed oil, mixed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium head cabbage, cored and shredded / chopped (about 4 cups)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
2 cups Kalua Pork (
see recipe below)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
Lomi Tomato-Pineapple (recipe below)

Cook pasta according to directions on the package, drain and set aside in a large bowl. Heat the oils in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes until onion begins to soften, then add cabbage, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook about 15 minutes or until cabbage is tender, stirring occasionally. Add kalua pork to mixture, taste and add salt and pepper, then heat through. Add the kalua pork and cabbage mixture to the bowl of pasta and toss until mixed. Serve warm, topped with sesame seeds and lomi tomato-pineapple.

Easy Slow Cooker Kalua Pork:

4-5 pounds Pork Butt Roast
2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp liquid smoke flavoring
about 1 Tbsp Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt (or substitute regular sea salt)

Trim any excess fat from pork butt. Using a fork, pierce the pork butt all over and place in the slow cooker. Mix the liquid smoke into the warm water and pour over the pork. Sprinkle pork with with salt. Cook on low for 12-16 hours depending on size of roast (Two 2.5 lb roasts took about 12 hours, one 4.5 pound roast took about 16). Turn roast once during cooking time. Remove pork from slow cooker, reserving the cooking liquid. Shred pork, adding some of the drippings/cooking liquid if needed to add moisture to the meat. Allow the surplus dripping / cooking liquid to cool; skim fat from the top and use if needed for sauce or gravy.

Lomi Tomato-Pineapple Salsa:

1 fresh tomato, seeded and diced
1 cup pineapple, diced
1 red chili pepper, seeded and diced
3 green onions thinly sliced
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
pinch of Hawaiian Alaea Sea Salt (or substitute regular sea salt)

Mix diced tomato, pineapple, chili pepper, green onion and cilantro together in a small bowl. Sprinkle mixture with a pinch of Hawaiian sea salt. Serve on top of pasta.

Notes/Results: I love it when a recipe "experiment" that has been living as an idea in my head translates well to the plate. This is a simple and very tasty dish. Once you have your shredded kalua pork cooked, it goes together really quickly--everything can be chopped while the pasta water boils and the pork & cabbage mixture cooked as the pasta cooks. The sesame oil gives a nutty taste and the red chili pepper flakes and fresh red chili in the salsa provide a little kick. There is a little smokiness from the meat and finally the sweetness and bright acidity of the pineapple and tomato and it all actually works together in this dish. I used some whole wheat penne for this recipe, but I would like to try it with some saimin noodles (a local noodle that is similar to, but larger and softer than ramen noodles), or a similar style of noodle. I will make this again.

For other things to do with kalua pork, check out these Kalua Pork Quesadillas and these Swedish Kalua Pork Cabbage Rolls (sounds funny but it was for an event you can read about on the post!)

I am sending this dish to two fun events--Ruth's Presto Pasta Nights being hosted this week by Katie of Thyme for Cooking. Katie will be posting a bevy of yummy pasta creations at her site on Friday.

I am also sending it to Natasha's monthly 5 Star Makeover: Pasta over at 5 Star Foodie Culinary Adventures, where the task was to "Create a PASTA dish with a twist. You can make any kind of pasta (homemade or purchased) and incorporate many different kinds of ingredients in various combinations to create interesting flavors, sweet or savory, inspired by any number of cuisines of the world." I think this fits that criteria! ;-) Natasha will be rounding up all the pasta creations after May 2.

I hope you are having a wonderful week!


  1. I love it when random ideas end up coming together into a delicious whole. First of all, I love the sound of the kalua pork. Really I'm just a sucker for shredded pork. But that also just looks extraordinarily good. Excellent pasta idea!

  2. Sounds like a fabulous combination of flavors!

  3. And another reason to visit Hawaii! Thanks for sharing this one with Presto Pasta Nights. I particularly love the sound of the Lomi Tomato Pineapple salsa.

  4. That sounds so wonderful.... I rarely see pineapple here - on the other side of the planet... But my s-i-l, who live is Kona will love this!

  5. This is an excellent pasta! I love that you incorporated the local specialties, the kalua pork just sounds so wonderful! A terrific 5 Star Makeover entry, thank you so much!

  6. What a fantastic idea Deb! I really want to try that kalua pork. I know it would be delicious:D

  7. You had me at pasta. And pig. :)

  8. The pineapple-tomato salsa sounds so refreshing and summery.
    Deb, I love visiting your tropically inspired blog, so I decided to give you a couple of awards:

  9. What a wonderful combination of flavors.

  10. I love the way your mind works! You put a wonderful twist on pasta with the kalua pork and the lomi. Very clever!

  11. Joanne--thanks! I was happy it worked well together.


    Ruth--thank you! Come visit!


    Katiez--I hope she likes it. If you can find canned pineapple, it would work too. ;-)

    Natasha--thank you! ;-) Can't wait to see the other makeover dishes.

    Kim--thanks! I hope you try it. ;-)

    Lisa--mahalo! ;-)

    Zibi--Thank you and mahalo for the awards--that is so sweet! ;-)

    Danielle--thank you! ;-)

    Reeni--sometimes it works fairly well lol! ;-)

  12. Really nice colours.
    Pork with salsa sounds great.


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