Callaloo is considered our [Trinidad] national dish by some......that is debatable because we have so many wonderful dishes!!....In my version of callaloo, spinach, ochroes, carrot, pumpkin and fresh herbs are simmered in coconut milk. The pumpkin and carrots compliment the spinach and lend sweetness to the dish, the ochroes add smoothness and the coconut milk adds unrivaled depth of flavor and creaminess...the fresh herbs contribute even more caribbean flavor to the callaloo. Soulfood at its best.
A typical Sunday lunch in my beloved country consists of callaloo, white rice and stewed chicken...a piece of macaroni pie.....a side of boiled ground provision....and maybe some potato salad too...yes, I am proud to say that some of us Trinidadians layer carbs upon carbs....upon carbs...arguably food heaven....
Each household in Trinidad probably has their own version of this dish. This is CWR's version....I think you are already familiar with my style of cooking....I try to stay away from highly processed food as often as I can......In addition, living in New York without easy access to the "Dasheen bush" leaves, I have had to make some adjustments. The end result is just as delicious and satisfying and of course super healthy....!!
This callaloo is a nutrient-dense dish and contains all your vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and phytonutrients...and did you know, according to the history books, the world's most beautiful women, Cleopatra of Egypt and Yang Guifei of China loved to eat okra because it is so good for the skin....amongst other wonderful benefits? What are you waiting for???
I ate it everyday last week with Jasmine rice for lunch...I am capable of peculiar things like that....some things I don't get tired of. My immune system required a boost....that's all I can say in my defense....I made it again yesterday to eat all week for lunch....yes, again....this time I added some wings....ok, so I really, really like it...what??? :-)
My recipe below uses chopped frozen spinach and does not include meat. I wanted to make a purely vegetarian dish for my vegetarian readers (I apologize for all the pics of chicken on this post...I tried :-( )!! But for the carnivores like myself, you have the option and free unadulterated will to add pieces of chicken, beef, prepared salted beef or salted pigtail, crab and/or probably any other type of protein....or all of the above.....if you do the latter, we should probably be best friends...call me...;-)
1/2 lb ochro, sliced in 1 inch pieces or use pre cut frozen ochro
1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 scallions, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 bunch thyme (whole or chopped finely)
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups coconut milk
salt and pepper ( I used 3 tsps salt and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper)
1 habanero pepper
Optional- 1 lb chicken, beef, crab or prepared salted meat etc.
Assemble ingredients...note that the spinach is already chopped, the ochroes cut and the pumpkin already peeled and sliced....my grocery didn't disappoint today!!
Wash and chop scallions, onions, slice carrots, mince garlic. You can finely chop the thyme or place the entire bunch whole in the pot....just remove the stems after cooking....if using fresh coconut milk(which I highly recommend) prepare that too...otherwise use the canned milk choosing a brand without preservatives....for my detailed instructions on how to make coconut milk, Click here
In a saucepan over low heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, then add pumpkin, carrots, ochroes, spinach, scallions, onion, thyme and garlic.....and habanero pepper....
add coconut milk...salt to taste and freshly ground black pepper.....
This is what the yumminess looks like with chicken wings....
Cover and let simmer for 60-90 minutes until all ingredients are cooked and soft....turning every 15-20 minutes to mix and prevent sticking to the bottom....
When finished, remove habanero pepper (being careful not to burst it) and (meat if using) and swizzle using a swizzle stick (also called dhal ghutney in Trinidad) to break up chunks...you may also use a food processor or blender or hand immersion blender for a finer, smoother consistency...I use the swizzle stick because the end result has texture which I like.....plus less clean up....