When I was growing up in Trinidad, callaloo was a staple in every home for Sunday dinner. In many caribbean countries it is considered to be a kind of soup, but in Trinidad it is a side dish.
Callaloo is prepared a variety of ways in different countries of the Caribbean, but the main ingredient is always a green leafy vegetable. In Trinidad “Dasheen” bush is primarily used but spinach (bhaaji in Trinidadian dialect) can also be used as a substitute. The traditional Trinidadian callaloo has crabs, Caribbean lobster or conch and/or a piece of salted pork/beef as ingredients.
For many years I have been preparing callaloo a very non-traditional way, i.e., vegan. My callaloo has no shellfish, salted pork or beef, and is made with coconut milk and spinach (since it is almost impossible to find dasheen bush in Texas). Also, instead of using a Trinidad swizzle stick to blend the callaloo when it is finished cooking, I usually use a blender. This callaloo is wonderful – it is tasty, flavorful and brings back memories of childhood and sea breezes.
1 pack frozen spinach (defrosted)
1 medium pack frozen okra (About 2 cups fresh okra, chopped)
1 large onion, largely chopped
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 can coconut milk
6 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 tsp vegetable butter/margarine
6 tablespoons Trinidad Green Seasoning (optional)
1 habanero pepper (whole)
Salt (to taste)
Garlic Powder (to taste)
Blender or Food Processor
In a large pot, over high heat, heat the oil. Add garlic and cook until golden brown. Add spinach, okra, onions, coconut milk and habanero pepper (whole). Lower to medium heat and cover pot to bring to a boil. When callaloo is boiling add Trinidad Green Seasoning, garlic powder (I like to use Mrs. Dash as well), and vegetable butter/margarine. If callaloo is too thick add about 1/3 cup water and cover pot. Allow callaloo to cook until everything is very tender, about 20-25 minutes, stirring periodically, and adding more water if necessary.
When callaloo is soft and tender, turn off stove and allow it to cool to about room temperature. Once it is cooled, put callaloo into a bowl. Divide callaloo putting half of the mixture into a blender or food processor. On low speed pulse callaloo 8 to 10 times. Pour into pot. Scoop the remaining callaloo into processor and pulse, pouring it into the pot when finished.
With the stove on medium heat, add salt to taste, and simmer until callaloo begins to bubble. Add more water if callaloo is too thick. Enjoy!