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Food & Dining // Heart-y Chef
Diana Helfand

Going Mediterranean With Mizithra

The basis of Kahi Kai’s environmental programming is bolstered by the natural curiosity of our youths. Marine biologist Anuschka Faucci and her team of volunteers conduct workshops across Oahu that not only have kids collect plankton, but also have them observe and document the astonishing diversity and unappreciated beauty of these organisms on a unique imaging device, the CellScope.

Faucci always has been fascinated by the natural world and anything ocean-related, including paddling, scuba diving, swimming and tide pooling.

She found her bond with Hawaii through her research in marine biology at Kewalo Marine Lab, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology on Coconut Island, and at UH-Manoa’s Department of Biology as an education specialist.

Kahi Kai means “one ocean” in Hawaiian and addresses the mission of the nonprofit organization, which is to raise ocean awareness in Hawaii’s youths and the public in general.

Kahi Kai currently is collaborating with Polynesian Voyaging Society for science outreach during Hokule’a's worldwide voyage.

You can learn more about their work and find those beautiful images of the sea at kahikai.org.

Here is a Southern Italian pasta dish, perfect for warm, sunny weather. This is a recipe that Faucci got from a friend when she lived in Southern Italy (Lecce, Puglia), where she studied for her master’s degree. Serve it with some crusty garlic bread and a green salad. Fresh orange segments drizzled with some honey and sprinkled with walnuts completes the meal.

Mizithra (mi-zee-thra) is a traditional Greek whey cheese that has been savored in Greece for thousands of years.

The cheese is manufactured from milk and whey derived from sheep, goats, cows or mixtures of milks, and is made in various sizes and shapes. The cheese is soft, white, creamy and moist.

Since no salt is added to mizithra, it has an almost sweet and milky taste. It is used as a table cheese, as well as in salads, pastries and in baking.

In its salted, aged form, it is considered the premier grating cheese in Greek cooking and a favorite for sprinkling over hot pasta. It is primarily produced on the island of Crete, but other areas in Greece also produce it.

PASTA CRUDAIOLA

* 8 ounces pasta (penne, or pasta of your choice), cooked al dente

* 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes (local cherry tomatoes work great)

* handful fresh arugula, chopped

* handful fresh basil, chopped

* 1/4 cup grated mizithra or salted ricotta cheese (not fresh ricotta)

* extra virgin olive oil, to taste

Mix tomatoes, arugula, basil and cheese in a big bowl.

Add cooked pasta, fresh ground pepper and extra virgin olive oil.

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