Growing up in the Caribbean at a time I did, making a decision to be vegan or stay away from meats was never really an option. There were days mom would make fish or meat dishes and there were days (many more) when vegetarian meals were prepared. Basically you ate or starved (nah was the norm, no cruelty ting eh).. except when she cooked bitter melon – myself, my brother and sisters would revolt. Much of what we ate came from our kitchen garden or what local farmers had for sale, so dishes like what I’m about to share comes naturally. Especially since most of what I’ll be using, came from my lil Caribbean Canadian garden.
2 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups diced pumpkin
4 cups chopped Jamaican Callaloo (chorai bhagi)
4-6 pumpkin stems (baby leaves)
6 okra (cut)
1 green scotch bonnet pepper
5 sprigs thyme + 5-8 green beans
4-6 cherry tomatoes (cut in 1/2)
4 cloves garlic (smashed)
1/4 cup chopped chives (chopped)
1 medium eggplant (cubed)
Notes. Please watch the video below for more tips and explanation. Should you be doing this recipe gluten free, may I recommend that you go through the full list of ingredients to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary requirements. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling such hot peppers as Scotch Bonnet. I explained why I used a green Scotch Bonnet in the recipe, in the video down below.
With most of the items coming from my garden, the first order of business was to give everything a good wash. Then it was a matter of chopping and dicing. While I do have a pumpkin patch, for some reason they didn’t even bloom this year. I made use of the pumpkin I had in the fridge from the local grocery. Butternut squash will would great too.
Heat the coconut oil (use olive if you prefer) on a medium flame in a deep pan (I used a cast iron pan) and add the cubed eggplant to the pan. I kept the skin on. Try to get color on all sides, then remove and set aside. Try to leave back as much of the oil in the pan.
With your flame still on medium, add the diced pumpkin and stir well to coat with the oil. After about 2-3 minutes, add the thyme (my stems were tender, so I added it all.. should yours be woody, pick the leaves off and only add them), garlic and chives. Turn the heat down to med/low and cook for 3 minutes. During this time you may add the black pepper.
It’s now time to add the beans, Scotch Bonnet okra and salt. Should you not want things spicy you may leave out the Scotch Bonnet, or add it whole and don’t break it. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, then add the chopped Jamaican Callaloo. Everyday Spinach, Kale or Swiss Chard will work to. At this point you may add the turmeric as well. Add the baby pumpkin leaves (explained in the video).
The Jamaican Callaloo (Amaranthus viridis Also known as: Slender amaranth, Slender pigweed) will pile up, but as it gets in contact with the heat, it will wilt down considerably. Top with the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer.
After about 5 minutes on the simmer, add the pre-cooked eggplant back to the pan and cook for another couple minutes, so the lovely smokey flavors of the eggplant makes it’s way into the dish. We fried the eggplant at the start so it can maintain it’s shape and texture in the dish. The skin will add a lovely sweet note to.
Now it’s time to personalize things a bit. You can burn off all the liquid at the bottom of the pan or leave some if you need a little gravy for rice or boiled ground provisions. At this point I’ll suggest you taste for salt and adjust accordingly. I know if you’re following a strict Ital diet, you’ll want to go low on the sodium or leave it out altogether.
Just before I turn off the stove I like adding the tomatoes to the pan and allow the residual heat to gently blister them. Squeeze in some fresh lemon juice should you want and a topping of additional black pepper can brighten the dish further.
A delightful vegan dish, packed with goodness from my garden.