Melting pot. It’s a term most closely associated with the U.S., but to my mind the 50 States have little on the West Indies when it comes to melding disparate cultures. Warmed by our always brilliant sun and seasoned sweetly by our tradewinds and natural wonders, the Caribbean melting pot routinely spawns all manner of delicious flavor-combos.
Chinese-Jamaican food: unparalleled. French-Creole in Martinique: magnifique! And don’t get me started on the impact India’s cooking traditions have had in my ancestral home of Trinidad & Tobago!
Then there’s the Hungarian-Vincy connection…
- 5 cups Coconut Milk
- 1 cup Butter
- 1 cup Unbleached Flour
- Salt and Pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Grated Nutmeg
Don’t know that one? Well, then I highly suggest you get yourself over to Sugar Reef Bequia for a taste of their fantastic callaloo lasagna. The dish is the dream child of Judit. She’s the pretty lady from Hungary who will most likely greet you upon your arrival at The Beach House, where sits Sugar Reef’s breezy-chic seaside restaurant.
A native of Budapest who, upon visiting Bequia a couple years ago, met a local guy (Ivor) in a bar and fell in love. She then left for Africa (Mozambique) to work as an NGO, returned to Bequia a year later, married Ivor last February, and landed a job managing the restaurant at Sugar Reef.
Yeah, Judit is the very picture of uncommon. So are her scrumptious culinary creations, chief among them the callaloo lasagna pictured above, which I devoured soon after arriving at the property last July 4th.
- 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
- 2 Garlic Cloves (minced or pressed)
- 2 cups of Chopped Onions
- 1/2 cup Chopped Fresh Rosemary
- 2 lbs Callaloo (rinsed, stemmed and chopped)
- 1lb Ricotta Cheese
- 1 Egg
- 2 cups Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated)
- 3 cups Mozzarella Cheese (grated)
- 1 (16 oz) package lasagna noodles
My Dad used to make a mean lasagna. Callaloo was also a staple in our Trini household. I don’t recall the two ever being served together, though. Even if they were, I’m not sure they’d work as magically as they do in Judit’s recipe. Here’s how to make it…
Heat the coconut milk until very warm, but do not bring to a boil. In another pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Do not let the butter brown! Whisk in flour and cook for three or four minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually add the hot coconut milk. Continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened. Add the freshly grated nutmeg.
Sauté the onions in oil until they’re translucent. Stir in the callaloo. Add a little water if the callaloo is too dry and season it with salt and pepper. Cook until the callaloo wilts, then remove it from the heat and set aside.
Mix the ricotta, the garlic, the egg and the Parmesan cheese together. Cook the lasagna until al dente (about five minutes). Oil a large casserole or lasagna pan. Layer the ingredients as follows:
-2 cups of sauce
-1/3 of the noodles
-1/2 of the callaloo
-2 cups of mozzarella
-2 cups sauce
-1/3 of the noodles
-all the ricotta mixture
-all of the callaloo
-2 cups of the sauce
-rest of the sauce
Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top. Cover the casserole and bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. Uncover the casserole and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
This recipe feeds six, so save some for me!