Dodging Bunya Nuts

Illustration of Bunya NutsA few years back, while picnicking at the Bunya Mountains, one of my children was almost hit by a bowling ball sized Bunya cone, which hurtled to Earth faster than the speed of sound.

It exploded into the ground, making a crater before rolling down the hill into our picnic blanket. Good thing my son had just moved away seconds earlier.

Bunya nuts are one of Australia’s greatest indigenous bush foods. They are large almond shaped nuts that grow in tight cones, on giant rainforest pine trees of South-East Queensland – particularly the Bunya Mountains.

The Aboriginal people used to eat them raw, or toasted in the fire and eaten like chestnuts, or even ground up like flour.

Nowadays, chefs have found many other uses for them, such as soups, quiches, pastries, cakes, biscuits and condiments. They easily absorb other flavours.

The biggest problem with the nuts is their hard and fibrous shell. As yet, nobody has come up with an effective method of harvesting and shelling them.

You can find shelled and frozen Bunya nuts at many bush food suppliers around the country – or just wait to dodge one before it clobbers you on the head at a picnic.

Bunya Nut Pesto

This recipe came from an apprentice chef I trained.

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 55g Bunya nuts
  • 55g fresh basil leaves
  • 70g parmesan cheese, grated
  • 125ml extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  1. Blend  garlic and Bunya nuts to a smooth puree.
  2. Blend in basil leaves and parmesan cheese.
  3. While blending, gradually pour olive oil until the desired consistency is achieved.

Note: You could also add a little melted butter. Use as a sauce for pasta, or spread on crispy Italian bread. Serve the meat and sauce with mashed potato or creamy polenta.

Serves 4.

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