Callaloo. Where else but Beth’s Farm Market in Warren, I ask you?
Beth has been using Jamaican help for so long that some Jamaican good cooking is filtering down.
Take Callaloo, for instance. Eaten all over the West Indies, it is actually amaranth, a “potherb”, meaning that it needs to be cooked to be enjoyed. It is quite similar to spinach and is very high in minerals, vitamins, and even offers up some protein. Left long enough, the plant will set seed, something like millet. The greens are best when young and need to be cleaned carefully. I don’t cook the biggest part of the stems, preferring the toothsome quality of the soft cooked leaves.
If one was to research it, a recipe for cooking this tasty green would vary all over the Caribbean. But I learned to love it in Negril, Jamaica, way back when. At the time I was mentored by an Ital cook named “Dice”.
Ital cooking is practiced by Rastafarians. They are vegetarian, do not eat salt, nor cut any hair on their bodies. I really loved the food, though I need a bit of salt in most recipes. Typically, in Jamaican style, this cooking includes some hot peppers, tomato, and fresh thyme.
Always ahead of the curve, my friends in Friendship, Maine, David Kapp and Cecily Kahn, have been singing the praises of Beth’s callaloo for some time. So I trundled down there last week and was indeed impressed by how young and fresh the bunches were. Ain’t life grand?
recipe and images by Laura Cabot, Laura Cabot Catering, Waldoboro
1 large white onion, diced
1 large clove of garlic, smashed
¼ cup cooking oil
1 large tomato, diced with the juice saved
Fresh thyme, salt, and pepper to taste
2 bunches of callaloo from Beth’s Farm Market in Warren, cleaned and rinsed twice, then stemmed and chopped
1 hot pepper of choice (don’t use a Scotch Bonnet unless you are ready for some serious heat!) or
A big dash of hot sauce like Tabasco
In a medium sized pot, sauté the onion and garlic in oil until translucent.
Add the tomato and seasonings and cook a few minutes more.
Add the chopped callaloo leaves and a bit of water, the hot sauce or peppers, tossing them to start them wilting.
Cover the pot with a tight fitting cover and cook over a medium flame until the callaloo is soft.
Correct seasonings, mix well, and enjoy as a healthy side dish to most anything! Be sure to drink the rich broth. That’s where so many of the vitamins go!