Haitian Touffe Legume
….or how to start eating vegetables
Carrot, cabbage, mirliton, eggplant, green beans…how do you get someone who hates vegetables to eat the items listed above?
By preparing a legume of course! Please note that in French, the word legume literally means vegetables.
I can already imagine the dubious look on your face after reading those lines. Don’t worry, I am not referring to just any dish or one that would consist of simply cooking those ingredients and trying to shove them down the throat of vegetable haters. I could never preach that. I would be the first victim of my own words.
I have never been truly fond of vegetables, and I have yet to make peace with some of them. Boiled carrots and cooked cabbage are among those vegetables that rank high on my list of foods to avoid. I, nonetheless, manage to eat them in different forms particularly as the “legume” mentioned above, a local dish I have learned to enjoy through the years.
When I say legume, I am indeed talking about a dish that is quite popular in our Haitian cuisine. Made primarily with vegetables, as you’ve probably figured out by now, to which we often add a meat or seafood, legume also known as touffe is much like a stew or vegetable ratatouille that is often featured on the every day menu of many local families. Mirliton and eggplants are its main ingredients that some people often combine while others swap one for the other. Personally, I have a strong preference for the version that features eggplants because it holds better.
By now, I am sure you’ve also guessed that I actually do like this dish. When touffe is featured on the menu, I do indeed serve myself abundantly. It’s actually one of the very few times you will detect an appetite for vegetables in me. I start off my meal with the legume as my entrée that I eat with boiled plantains and end it with rice and legume mixed together. And when ciriques are included… se koupe dwèt!
But don’t get me wrong. I will only eat my touffe legume if all the vegetables are mashed and reduced to a puree.
You now understand why I started my article the way I did. I am living proof that a Haitian legume touffe can be a great strategy to get those who dislike vegetables to eat them. Try it for yourself with a loved one. You have a recipe below.
This is the base recipe for the Haitian touffe legume. Feel free to adjust it to your taste and add some meat. I find that this dish tastes better when it is made with some pork and/or cirique because the flavors are bold.
Should you chose to include meat, I recommend cooking the vegetables in the meat juice. This makes a flavorful legume in which all the flavors pair perfectly with each other.
Please also note that, since I am not fond of carrots and cabbage, I like all the vegetables to be cooked thoroughly and pureed. Some do leave them chopped, however.
- Piment bouc
- Vinegar or sour orange juice
- Salt & Pepper
- Bouquet Garni
- Chop the vegetables and set aside
- In a pot, cook the garlic and onion in some hot oil
- Add the eggplant, chayote, cabbage, carrot and leek and some water
- Cover and let cook
- Once the vegetables are cooked, puree them using a wooden pestle
- Put the purée back on the stove. Add salt and pepper to taste, a few drops of vinegar, the bouquet garni and whole piment bouc
- Let simmer for about 45 minutes
- Serve hot with some white rice