Make Jamaican Rundown and Take a Trip
Believe it or not, it’s very Minnesotan to visit Jamaica. When you get on a plane in January at -30 F and get off a plane at 70 degrees, you get it completely. I didn’t realize how many of my fellow Midwesterners took this trip until I was there, seeing signs of them everywhere.
Of course, there’s more to Jamaica than the weather. The food is worth a trip. Especially for plant-based diners. The verdant island gives cooks all the insiration and materials for a vibrant, veg centric way of cooking.
Just thinking of it makes me crave travel, and the joy of discovering life-altering new cuisines. That’s what Jamaica gave to me, and I lean heavily on the plant-based, I-Tal cuisine that I learned to make there. It always makes me happy, and reminds me of beaches and sunshine.
Jamaican Rundown is a Concept
After researching the dish we know as rundown, I learned that it is actually a method borrowed from Indonesian sailors who traveled to the “Spice Islands” on their travels. In Indonesian cuisine, a “Rendang” is a dish simmered in coconut milk. The theory is that Jamaicans learned the method and colloquialized the name. So, it’s not about “running down” the vegetables at all. It’s about using the abundant coconuts of the Tropics to make delectable plant-based food.
A Plant-Based Paradise
When I found my cooking teacher in Jamaica (read more about that here) he simply sent me to the vegetable stand on the corner by where we were staying. Local women had tables full of locally grown vegetables and fruits. It’s 70 degrees all year long in Jamaica, allowing continuous harvests of bright, fresh tropical fruits and vegetables. Mangos, pineapples, passionfruit and unusual bananas were so ripe and sweet, they put the ones we ship North while green to shame.
Where Coconuts Come From
I learned to make fresh coconut milk from a coconut, and we cooked a meal in it in the shared kitchen of our hotel. Coconut palms are everywhere, and using their milk, meat and oil for cooking is a luscious Jamaican tradition.
I’m just glad I got to try Jamaican Rundown in such a beautiful place, and now I can share it with you.
Jamaican Rundown with Golden Quinoa
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 cup chopped scallion
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 small Scotch Bonnet Chile minced
- 1 large sweet potato chopped
- 1 large carrot chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper chopped
- 2 cups chopped cabbage
- 1 ear or 1/2 cup sweet corn
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 1 can kidney beans drained
- salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 1/4 cups water
- chives for garnish
- Heat oil, then saute onion, scallion, thyme, garlic, allspice, and chile until onions are very soft. Add the sweet potato, carrots, pepper, cabbage and corn and saute for a few minutes. Add the coconut milk and vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.
- Cover and cook until sweet potato is tender, about 10 minutes. Uncover, stir in kidney beans and simmer until everything is tender and the liquids are creamy and thick. Add water if necessary to keep it from becoming too thick.
- While the rundown is cooking, put the quinoa in a dry medium saucepan and swirl over medium-high heat. When the grain is fragrant and toasty smelling, add the turmeric and keep the grain moving for a few seconds. Take off the heat and carefully add the water. It may bubble up. Put back on the heat and bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce heat and cover, cook for 14 minutes. Take off the heat and let stand, covered, until time to serve.
- Season the rundown to taste with salt and pepper, then serve over the quinoa garnished with chives.