Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Use Your Booty: [Far From Authentic] Callaloo

I'm slapping all my disclaimers up at the front of this post. I'm sure that if you have ever eaten callaloo, a Trinidadian/Jamaican/Caribbean stew of amaranth leaves you will tell me that my version is just wrong. And I'm sure you are right. I used several recipes I found online as guidelines for this soup and then just threw them all aside and put this together.

Callaloo is also another name for the amaranth plant, so don't get confused when you're poking around online or in your Caribbean cookery books. Amaranth is also a grain - it's the seeds of the plant. Amaranth (the grain) is a really nice side dish and you should seek it out in your local health food store.

Introductions and disclaimers aside, this soup was yummy, regardless of what it's called. If you don't have amaranth greens at hand, baby spinach or chard would be a good substitute.

[Not Quite] Callaloo
Serves 4 to 6, as a main dish if served with rice, as a starter if served solo
  • olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 1 pound) or the same amount of butternut squash, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large bunch amaranth greens, about 1 pound - enough to yield 10-12 cups loosely packed leaves, leaves stripped from the stems
  • 1 can (15 oz) coconut milk (NOT light coconut milk)
  • 1 habanero pepper or 1-2 tablespoons of Caribbean-style hot sauce
  • 2-3 sprigs thyme

Sauté the onions over medium-high hear with a little olive oil in a small soup pot or large saucepan until the onion is softened and starting to brown. Add the garlic and continue to sauté for a minute or so, until fragrant.

Add the sweet potatoes and greens to the pot. Pour over the coconut milk and 2 coconut milk cans of water. As the soup starts to simmer, stir the greens into the liquid, add the habanero pepper or hot sauce. Simmer the soup until the sweet potatoes are soft.

Remove the thyme sprigs and habanero (if using). Use an immersion blender to break up the greens and sweet potatoes - don't aim for a smooth purée, leave things a little chunky.

Check for salt and pepper (you'll need fair amount of salt, but add a little at a time to ensure you don't oversalt).

Serve over rice with a few wedges of lime and some hot sauce for folks who like things spicy!

This Summer, I am chronicling my first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) experience. My CSA share is from Arrowhead Farm, a farm based in Newburyport, MA. Each week, I am posting about what was in my share and what I'm doing with it. By way of full disclosure, I won my share through a raffle and am not paying for it. However, Arrowhead did not know I was entered in the raffle, and I received no special consideration because of this blog. I paid for my livestock share.

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