In January, we are usually drowning in gallons of turkey soup. This holiday season, I broke with tradition and refused to make soup with the nearly naked carcass. I did pick the bones clean for turkey salad, though, and buried them deep within the compost pile. I just wasn’t in the mood for such a traditional taste this year and neither was anyone else in the family. Instead, we were pining for callaloo.
While many may not have heard of callaloo, it is a well-known dish served around the world. It is especially popular in South America, West Africa and in the Caribbean,. Every region has its own way of seasoning and serving it. In the US, callaloo can often be ordered in Jamaican restaurants. Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, they are a healthy addition to the diet.
Although it is a member of the amaranth family, cooked callaloo is similar in taste and texture to spinach. However, it can be seasoned a number of ways. In our house, it is served as a savory vegetable and meat stew or over rice. My recipe isn’t the traditional taste of Jamaica, but rather the result of what happens when a crazy-Bahamian-urban-farming-foodie gets her hands on new and exciting ingredients to play with. As much as I claimed to not want turkey soup, I still used turkey in my recipe!
It is also a treat that can only be prepared during the summer because the greens are not sold in local stores. Instead, we raise the plants in the garden each year and gorge ourselves on them while we can.
This year, we tried a bit of an experiment. After growing and harvesting our callaloo plants, we froze some to see if they’d still be edible during the winter. The temperature outside had dipped to 10 degrees Fahrenheit when I added the greens to the soup pot two days ago. The pot is now empty and everyone is feeling a bit sad as we count the days until a new batch of callaloo seeds will be started in the greenhouse. Next year, we’ll be freezing a lot more to get us through the frigid temperatures.
Nothing chases away the cold like a bowl of soup, though…Today’s temperature was 48 degrees and the sun shone brightly all day! Maybe the callaloo brought us a tropical heat wave…
Carolyn’s Non-Traditional Callaloo Stew
20 stalks of Callaloo leaves and stems, finely chopped
2 lbs of ground turkey sausage, browned and drained
¼ cup of olive oil
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion finely chopped
6 leaves of fresh basil
2 sprigs of fresh oregano, finely chopped
3 carrots, shredded
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 red or purple pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
2 cups of coconut milk
2 cups of water
¼ cup of honey
Salt & pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a large pot and allow it to simmer for two hours. Serve over rice or as a stew with homemade bread.