Caribbean pantry staples

Pancakes -
Pancakes -

Caribbean pantry staples are rice and corn. We eat rice on a daily basis, and we use cornmeal when making coo coo, dumplings, and our beloved pastelles and arepas. Sometimes we may have that cornmeal hanging out in our refrigerator for a year before we decide to use it up or even throw it out.

White rice probably never goes to waste, but that bag of brown rice you may have purchased from the urge to suddenly incorporate more whole grains into your diet may still be tucked to the very back of the refrigerator waiting for you to be inspired and motivated.

Have no fear, here are some delightful recipes to help you use up those pantry staples and nudge you towards a healthier version of yourself.

Bon appetit.

Mexican rice salad

For the salad

2 cups whole grain brown rice rice, boiled according to package directions, and cooled

1 cup corn kernels, canned is fine

1 tin black beans, drained and rinsed

2 red pimento peppers, seeded and chopped

1 bunch fresh chive, washed and thinly sliced

2 jalapeno peppers, sliced

1 red onion, thinly sliced


¼ cup olive oil

juice of one lime

1 tsp ground cumin

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

¼ cup chopped chadon beni

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

crumbled feta for garnish

Combine all the salad ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Combine all the dressing ingredients, pour onto salad and toss to mix well.

Garnish with feta

Serves 6

Shrimp po boys

4 sturdy hot dog rolls, split

¼ cup butter

1 lb medium-sized shrimp, peeled, deveined and patted dry

1 tbs southern style seasoning powder

1 cup flour

¾ cup cornmeal

1 cup milk

1 tsp red hot sauce

veg oil for frying

Cole slaw

1 cup shredded cabbage

½ carrot, grated

1 onion, grated

½-1 cup mayonnaise

1 tbs red wine vinegar

1 tsp red hot sauce


4 lettuce leaves

Butter the split buns and set aside.

Combine shrimp with seasoning. Combine flour with cornmeal.

Add hot sauce to milk and mix, dredge shrimp in flour mixture, then into milk and again into flour mixture.

Combine all the ingredients for the cole slaw and set aside.

Heat oil in a frying pan, fry shrimp until golden and crisp, about 2-3 minutes.

Drain and set aside.

Pre-heat grill or broiler, place buns onto baking tray buttered side up and grill until lightly toasted.

Place lettuce into buns, followed with shrimp and top with cole slaw.

Serve immediately

Makes 4

Cornmeal pancakes

1½ cups milk

1 tbs vinegar

1½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup white or yellow cornmeal

1 tbs brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbs vegetable oil

Combine milk with vinegar, leave for 10 mins.

In a mixing bowl combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl beat eggs until light, add milk, vanilla and oil.

Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir only until combined. Your batter should be lumpy.

Heat a non-stick frying pan; grease with a small amount of butter.

Spoon about ⅓ cup of batter onto hot frying pan and spread gently.

When small bubbles appear on the topside of the pancake and the edges look cooked then flip the pancakes, cook for a short while longer and remove to a plate

Keep pancakes warm while you are cooking the balance.

Serve with pancake syrup or honey.

Makes 8 pancakes.

Caribbean stuffed peppers

4 large green bell peppers

2 tbs olive oil

4 cloves garlic chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

4 red pimento peppers, finely chopped

⅓ cup chopped celery

1 yellow hot pepper, chopped

1 lb lean ground beef or chicken

2 tbs fresh French thyme

1 tsp ground roasted geera (cumin)

½ cup chopped tomatoes

1 cup whole grain brown rice, boiled according to package directions, and cooled

¼ cup chicken or vegetable broth

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Chopped chadon beni and grated cheese for garnish

Preheat oven to 375F.

Wash and slice peppers in half lengthwise. Remove white ribs and seeds.

Place peppers into a 9x12-inch baking dish

Heat oil in a saute pan, add garlic, onion, pimentos and hot peppers and celery, cook until fragrant.

Add beef and continue to cook until beef is brown, add thyme, geera and chopped tomatoes.

Cook covered until beef is cooked and tomatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in rice, taste and adjust seasonings.

Divide mixture amongst peppers.

Pour chicken stock around the peppers and cover dish with foil.

Bake for 35 minutes until peppers are tender, remove foil.

Sprinkle with grated cheese and chadon beni and bake for another 6 minutes until melted.

Serves 6-8


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