Callaloo: The Caribbean Vegetable

Callaloo is a classic side dish found throughout the Caribbean. Made with a variety of dark leafy greens, there are different varieties of callaloo found throughout the Caribbean. Most typically, amaranth and taro leaves are used in making callaloo. 

History of Callaloo

Traditionally callaloo is a West African dish, but it is more popular and generally recognized as a Caribbean dish. The first record of callaloo being introduced to the Americans is in 1696 during the triangular slave trade. Callaloo was created and eaten by enslaved Africans throughout the Caribbean and to this date it is the staple vegetable dish throughout the region. 

Image Credit: Flickr user joannova ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )

Flavor of Callaloo

Callaloo is a steamed or sauteed dish. Leafy greens are the main ingredient in callaloo, but there are often other vegetables in the mix such as scallions, okra, or chiles. Some versions include saltfish, coconut milk, crab, or pumpkin. In appearance, callaloo has a resemblance to steamed spinach, but it does not taste the same; callaloo has a bit of a bitter taste to it with a nutty undertone. 

Culinary Benefits of Callaloo

The most famous way to use callaloo is the Jamaican way. Jamaican callaloo recipes are famous worldwide and are enjoyed either at breakfast or at lunch. There are other ways callaloo can be used, it can easily substitute as a green vegetable for other green vegetables.

Image Credit: Flickr user Food Stories ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

A breakfast recipe where you can use callaloo as a substitute ingredient is Cheesy Spinach Breakfast Bake. The richness of the cheese and the sour tanginess of the sour cream plays well with any leafy green. Substituting callaloo for the spinach is an easy swap. The nuttiness and a slightly bitter flavor of the callaloo would complement the dish really well. 

Another spinach recipe that you can substitute the callaloo for is Spinach Artichoke Chicken Casserole. In this recipe, you have gooey mozzarella and salty parmesan paired with golden-brown breadcrumbs for crunch. Just swap in some callaloo for a Caribbean twist. 

Looking for dishes to pair your callaloo with? Our Easy Jerk Chicken recipe would pair perfectly with callaloo. Throw in a side of johnny cakes and you’ve got yourself a complete meal. Jerk Salmon would also taste great with callaloo or you could serve it with Plantain Curry

Feature Image: Flickr user Food Stories ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

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