Before moving to our neighborhood in Brooklyn, the only thing I knew about Caribbean food was jerk chicken. Our neck of Brooklyn is a confluence of Black Caribbeans and Orthodox and Hasidic Jews. In the past year, new restaurants have opened up, but still, the dominant type of restaurant is Caribbean. A whole new world of different eats opened up to us.
One of our favorite dishes that we discovered is callaloo. Callaloo is a leafy vegetable, also known as “greens” in the Caribbeans, and refers to a wide variety of different plants. In our area, callaloo typically refers to the Amaranthus viridis variety.
Our friend and neighbor down the street has a huge vegetable garden and we’ve benefited from his largess many times. Last year we got a bounty of fresh tomatoes that we turned into a delicious sauce for pasta. The tomatoes haven’t come in yet, but he proudly showed off his garden to me this morning and urged me take some callaloo (and kale). He promised me that the leaves would just melt in your mouth.
He bequeathed me with an armful of callaloo and kale and I rushed home to cook the callaloo for lunch. I sauteed the callaloo with diced onions and garlic to make a simple side dish to go with our steak. As he had promised, the tender callaloo leaves were sweet and absolutely delicious. Recipes say that callaloo can be used anywhere where spinach or kale is used. The leaves wilt down quickly like spinach and in our opinion taste much better than spinach (and we like spinach!). Callaloo is an amazing leafy vegetable and if you haven’t tried it yet, then you should try to find it.
- callaloo (~5 lbs with the stalks)
- olive oil
- large onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- Rinse and clean callaloo leaves.
- Strip callaloo leaves and tender stems from stalk. Throw the stalks away.
- Dice a large onion.
- Thinly slice 3 garlic cloves
- Heat a large Dutch oven with some olive oil.
- Saute the diced onion.
- When the onions are cooked, add the callaloo leaves and garlic. Every once in a while stir the leaves and onions. The leaves will wilt down like spinach. (We had a lot of leaves, so it took maybe 10 minutes).
- Salt and pepper to taste.
This dish was a lovely side for two people.