Callaloo, the delicious soup-like dish of the Southern Caribbean is traditionally made with the inclusion of fresh ocean crabs for it’s unique and rich flavor. If one cannot source that wonderful ‘blue’ crab, we then look for that layer of flavor from salted meats like pigtails and beef, and I’ve seen some people use smoked meats on some occasions. I must point out that the traditional recipe for making callalloo (not to be confused with Jamaican Callaloo) are the tender leaves of the dasheen or taro plant. However, sourcing those in Canada is almost impossible, so we’ll be using baby spinach with brilliant results in this vegetarian version of Callaloo.
6-8 cups chopped spinach
2 cups diced butternut squash (or pumpkin)
1 1/2 cups diced sweet potato
2 birds eye pepper (1/4 scotch bonnet)
4 cloves garlic
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 med onion
1 heaping tablespoon sofrito (see note below)
4-5 sprigs thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups water (or veg stock – gluten free)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Note: If you don’t have sofrito you can use 1/2 teaspoon Caribbean green seasoning – or leave it out if you wish. If you have access to Caribbean seasoning peppers (pimento peppers) I’d recommend adding a couple. Remember to go through the entire list of ingredients to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary needs.
Click here for the >> Sofrito Recipe
Heat the olive oil in a deep pot (soup pot) and go in with the diced onion, garlic, thyme, chopped scallions and black pepper. Turn the heat down to low and let it cook (stir) for 2-3 minutes.
Add the cubed sweet potato, chopped okra, squash (use pumpkin if you have) and stir well. Then turn up the heat to med and go in with the chopped spinach. Top with the coconut milk and then add all the other ingredients. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.
As it comes to a boil, reduce it to a gentle bubble (like a simmer) and let it go until everything goes tender and starts falling apart (about 40-50 minutes).
Taste for salt and adjust accordingly as my tolerance for salt will be different than yours. It’s now time to ‘swizzle’ the callaloo.. I have an old-school swizzle stick, but you can use an immersion blender or wire whisk. If using an immersion blender try to PULSE in short bursts – do NOT go continuous or you’ll end in with a forty mess. The goal is to have a somewhat smooth soup-like texture/consistency.
Traditionalists may argue that you need the crab or salted meats for a GOOD callaloo to stand out, but I assure you that this vegetarian version, which happens to be gluten friendly is stunning. As a soup or with rice, stewed meats (for non vegetarians), sides of plantains and salad and you’re in true Caribbean heaven. You and your belly can thank me after that food-induced nap!