Come and eat my food this Sunday!

This Sunday I’m one of the guest chefs at the Kickoff to the Eat Local Challenge month. The Kickoff is being held this year at Kumaries Organic Garden in Alachua.

For several weeks I have been thinking over what to cook for my local produce demonstration. I was going to be cooking with whatever was growing at Kumarie’s farm at the time of the celebration, so I’ve been talking to them every week at the Saturday Farmer’s Market about what they think will be available during that weekend.

The time is getting short and I was away last Saturday, so I dropped by their booth at the downtown market after work to see what was available. As soon as I walked up, I knew what I had to cook. Callaloo!

Callaloo is a leafy green found in Caribbean cooking. It’s sturdy with a rather fuzzy texture whose flavor is best brought out by pureeing or chopping very finely. Taro and dasheen greens are sometimes also called callaloo but the Kumaries’ callaloo is a variety of amaranth. I bought it for the first time several years ago from Hemchan and his wife Kumarie. They told me what it was and how to cook it, and we fell in love with it. Now we use callaloo greens in several different recipes whenever it’s in season. Callaloo starts coming in just as the lambsquarters are waning, so we started using the callaloo greens for any recipe we used lambsquarters in, or any other sturdy greens.

I actually cooked callaloo last year also at the Eat Local Challenge Month Kickoff, but I made traditional Callaloo Soup with crab, salt pork and coconut milk from Trinidad. The Kickoff this year is at Kumarie’s Organic Garden, and they are all Krishna-consciousness vegetarians, so I knew I couldn’t make the (gorgeous, delicious) traditional soup. So instead I’ve decided to make another very green dish that’s rich, spicy, and vegetarian… callaloo paneer!

I promise I’ll post the recipe as soon as the Kickoff’s over, but I hope to see as many of you there in person as possible.

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