The next time you host a cookout, transport your guests to a tropical paradise by creating a veg version of a Hawaiian luau. Luaus are usually huge outdoor buffets held to celebrate significant events, such as weddings, graduations, and special birthdays, and the festive fare makes great, easy-to-prepare party food. So light some tiki torches, download some slack-key guitar music, and invite guests to celebrate summer, Hawaiian-style.
Set the Scene
Play Hawaiian slack-key guitar artists such as Makana, or favorites such as Israel “Iz” Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’ole (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World”).
LIGHTING AND FLOWERS
Decorate with tiki torches and tropical flowers, such as birds of paradise, protea, orchids, and hibiscus.
Top with banana or ti leaves, use grass skirts for table skirts, and set places with bamboo mats and utensils.
Seek out leis, hibiscus flowers for hair, grass skirts, Hawaiian print shirts (shop for them in thrift stores), and fresh coconuts for drinking the water from the shell.
get the recipes
A true luau staple, lau lau rolls are traditionally made with pork and fish, rolled in taro or ti leaves, and steamed for hours before serving. This quick-and-easy version uses collard leaves to wrap up a sweet potato filling.more
Huli Huli Tofu
Huli means “turned” and describes a marinade that is commonly used on rotisserie-cooked chicken. This veg-friendly version features tofu.more
Poke (pronounced po-kee) is typically made with raw fish. This version uses portobello mushrooms seasoned with arame, a dried seaweed, to give it the flavor of the sea. Serve warm or chilled over a small bed of mixed organic greens.more
Haupia Coconut Pudding
This quintessential luau dessert is sliced into petite squares and served on small pieces of ti or banana leaf. Serve with a large platter of tropical fruits (such as sliced mango, pineapple, and papaya).more
Tropical Hibiscus Cooler
Break out the mini umbrellas for this exotic, rum-optional elixir. For a lighter drink, you can make a spritzer with 2 Tbs. of the hibiscus syrup and 3/4 cup seltzer water. Serve with a straw for stirring.more