Callaloo is a tasty, spinach side dish in T&T.
It is made with young taro (also called dasheen) leaves, pumpkin, ochro, and other vegetables. Crab, chicken feet, pork, pig tail, or beef are often used to make callaloo; but this recipe is a vegan one.
By the way, this is not the same thing as Jamaican callaloo. The Jamaican version is made with chori bhagi (amaranth) leaves. This recipe uses dasheen leaves.
What is in this vegan callaloo recipe
Here’s a quick list of what I used to make this recipe:
- young dasheen leaves (I didn’t use the stems)
- green seasoning like chadon beni, thyme
- lemon juice
- coconut milk
- salt to taste
If you like this recipe, check out all the Trinidad lunch recipes on this blog.
How to make this vegan callaloo recipe
Prepare the leaves
If you are sensitive to oxalate-containing foods, you should wear gloves when preparing the leaves. Otherwise, your fingers may become irritated.
The leaves and stems contain the toxin called calcium oxalate. If they are not cooked properly, the leaves can cause redness, swelling, allergies, and an irritated tongue and throat. So, be sure to cook it for the full time. Besides heat, acid like lemon or lime juice helps to reduce the irritation.
Step 1: I’ve also seen advice like removing the tips and the center of the leaves where the stems are attached. I’ve done that here. Supposedly, this helps in reducing the irritation.
Step 2: Wash the leaves thoroughly, roll them up and give them a good chiffonade cut.
You can wash, peel and chop the stems as well and add them to your callaloo. I don’t usually use the stems since I am sensitive to the toxin.
Prep the other ingredients
Step 3: Peel and cut up the pumpkin and ochro. Chop the onions, garlic and pepper. Grate the ginger. Grind the fresh green seasoning.
If you are using fresh juice, cut the citrus and squeeze the fruit. I used a frozen lemon juice cube in this recipe.
If you are using fresh coconut milk, remove the white coconut meat and blend it with a little water. Strain and set aside. You can use some of the coconut bits in the callaloo too for some extra coconut flavor.
Cook the veggies
With everything prepped, it’s time to cook the veggies.
Step 4: Place a large pot on medium heat. Add a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil to the pot.
Step 5: Next, add in chopped onions and sauté until translucent or about 2 minutes. Mix in the garlic, grated ginger and pepper. Stir to cook for another 2 minutes.
Step 6: Toss in the pumpkin, ochro and salt. Turn a few times and cover for 10 minutes. If the veggies begin sticking to the base of the pot, add a little water and keep covered.
Add the dasheen leaves
Step 7: The pumpkin and ochro should start softening at this point. Now, it’s time to add in the chopped dasheen leaves. I usually also add the lemon juice and coconut milk here. Cover completely for 5 minutes.
After this time, the leaves should have wilted and ‘boiled down like bhagi.’
Step 8: Remove the cover. If the ingredients are too dry and begin sticking, add about one cup of water (repeat if necessary). Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 9: With the pumpkin, ochro and dasheen leaves fully cooked, it is time to blend everything. You can use a swizzle stick or an immersion blender. Or pour everything into your regular blender and blend.
Once you’ve blended everything until smooth or slightly chunky, that’s it! You’ve just made yourself a vegan Trinidad callaloo side dish.
Can you batch make this recipe
Dasheen leaves take a long time to clean so I usually batch make this recipe. Oftentimes, I add the callaloo to small containers and freeze them. They will stay really well in the freezer for months.
What to serve with callaloo
Trini callaloo can be served alongside boiled dumplings for a simple but tasty lunch.
For a fancy Sunday lunch, pair callaloo with Trini fried rice, macaroni pie, BBQ chicken, beans, and a nice fresh salad.
Both curry and stew dishes also go really well with callaloo. It’s certainly a versatile side dish.
More lunch recipes
Vegan Callaloo Recipe
Vegan Callaloo with Pumpkin and Coconut Milk
- immersion blender
- 30 young dasheen leaves
- 2 cups pumpkin (chopped)
- 3 ochro (sliced)
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 1 inch ginger (grated)
- 2 tbsp green seasoning like chadon beni, thyme
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 tbsp oil
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- Remove the stem from the dasheen leaf.
- Cut out the dark center where the leaf attaches to the stem.
- Cut out the tip of the leaf.
- Wash the leaf and give it a chiffonade cut.
- Repeat for all leaves.
- Prep all ingredients.
- To a heavy pot on medium heat, add oil.
- Sauté onion until translucent.
- Stir in garlic, ginger and pepper and cook for two minutes.
- Mix in the pumpkin, ochro and salt.
- Cover and cook for 5 minutes (add ½ cup of water to prevent the veggies from burning, if necessary).
- Add dasheen leaves, lemon juice and coconut milk.
- Cover completely for five minutes.
- Add water and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Blend the ingredients to make a chunky or smooth spinach side dish.
- Serve hot.