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Jamaican Callaloo

Jamaican Callaloo is a popular local staple green leafy vegetable, cooked with onion, garlic, tomatoes, thyme and Scotch bonnet pepper. Perfect healthy side dish for a tropical breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Jamaican Callaloo
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I enjoy visiting my homeland Jamaica and eating the locally prepared foods, which are mostly unprocessed and very flavorful using simple organic ingredients that are locally grown.

Jamaican Callaloo on white plate with ackee, yellow yam, dumplings and roast bread fruit

Eating callaloo (Amaranthus viridis) is so reminiscent of my childhood where I enjoyed this dish prepared in a variety of ways. It is eaten here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

It is traditionally cooked alone with onion, tomatoes, green onions and Scotch bonnet pepper and thyme or cooked with salt fish or served with steamed fish, rice or fried breadfruit. It is also added to soups, and used as a filling for a savory pastry called patty like my Jamaican Lentil Patties and even made into a drink.

What is Jamaican Callaloo?

Callaloo is an ancient green leafy vegetable also known as amaranth; it has been consumed for thousands of years. In the United States it as commonly known as a weed. It is similar to spinach but has a stronger flavor,

Jamaican Callaloo Greens

Jamaican greens callaloo is often seen growing wild throughout the island as well as being cultivated from callaloo seeds by farmers. I love to grow my own, so I normally allow a few of my callaloo plants to seed. I then allow the seeds to dry and store them for after winter.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Jamaican Callaloo?

But this notorious weed is a valuable source of iron, calcium, folate, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Callaloo may be purchased in the Caribbean, Asian and /or International supermarkets.

Overhead photo of cooked Jamaican Callaloo in a white bowl

1 cup of cooked callaloo provides:

  • 90 kilocalories
  • 6.9 milligrams of iron
  • 1074 milligrams of potassium
  • 602 milligrams of calcium
  • 13 grams of fiber
  • 484 milligrams of sodium
  • 86 milligrams of vitamin C
  • 7.2 grams of protein

Scotch bonnet pepper is also a key ingredient in Jamaican cuisine, its similar to habanero pepper, which may be substituted. It is extremely hot therefore I use it whole just for the unique and authentic flavor it imparts to the dish.

Jamaican Callaloo Amaranthus viridis

How To Cook Jamaican Callaloo

To prepare callaloo, first remove dead leaves, debris, and any hard stalks. I like to fill a large pot of cold water and add salt to it and submerge the callaloo in the pot for about 10 minutes, the salt will help to remove debris.

Next, I discard the water and rinse the callaloo. Strip the outer thin layer of the callaloo stems. Finely cut leaves and stem of callaloo and set aside.

Saute, onion, garlic, spring onion, thyme, tomatoes in oil. Add chopped callaloo, salt and Scotch bonnet pepper, cover and allow to steam, you may add a little water at this time but not too much because the callaloo will 'spring its own water' (produce its own liquid as it is cooked).

Step by Step Photos of how to prepare callaloo

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Below, I served my callaloo with Jamaican yellow yam, gluten-free, vegan boiled dumplings, Ackee, and roast breadfruit.

Overhead photo of Jamaican Callaloo served with ackee, boiled dumplings, yellow yam on white plate

Per portion
Energy:
54 kcal / 226 kJ
Fat:
1 g
Protein:
3 g
Carbohydrate:
8 g

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Peel outer membrane of each stalk of callaloo and remove outer old leaves. Place callaloo in a bowl and cover with cold water, place 1/2 tsp salt and set aside while preparing remaining vegetables. Discard water then rinse with water and drain. Chop callaloo

  2. Place oil in a large pot, add onion, garlic, spring onion, thyme, tomato, and scotch bonnet pepper on medium heat, saute; until onion is translucent. Add callaloo and water, allow to simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes or until tender.

Notes

Depending on how tender your callaloo is, it can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to cook.

Jamaican Callaloo Pin

Please Leave a Comment and a Rating

Rating

18 Comments
  1. Cynthia
    October 2, 2018

    I may not have finished the stars….. I give it 5 stars!

  2. Cynthia
    October 2, 2018

    5.03

    Hi …..I grew collaloo in my vegetable garden this year. A Jamaican friend harvested seed from her plant ( which is Amaranth) and I grew it. It was a bit hard getting started in the spring, but once it caught on it grew perfectly, there were some holes in the leaves, but I don’t use pesticides.
    I followed your recipe and it was delicious. My friend offered me salt cod, but I made mine without. I’ll grow more next year and try a bit of the cod!
    Ps had green peppers in garden and sautéed one with the other veggies.

    • Michelle Blackwood
      October 2, 2018

      I’m happy you grew it and tried it. It is not only delicious but so healthy. I don’t use pesticides as well so sometimes some of my leaves have holes. Traditionally it is cooked with salted codfish but it does taste delicious without it. I’m so happy you loved it.

  3. Brittany
    May 29, 2018

    5.03

    Callaloo is SO GOOD! I love getting it at Jamaican restaurants. I’m not sure why I never thought about making my own. Will be using your recipe.

  4. Julie
    May 28, 2018

    Do you eat the pepper? Or do you discard it after cooking? I’ve never thought about cooking with a whole hot pepper and then tossing it afterwards, so it just flavors the dish a little without making it outrageously spicy.

    • Michelle Blackwood
      May 28, 2018

      Julie, I discard the pepper. I only added it for flavor and not the spicy heat.

  5. Stacey
    May 28, 2018

    5.03

    Oh this looks so good! I’ve never tried it before, but those flavors sound incredible!

  6. Michele @ Queenbeebaker
    May 27, 2018

    5.03

    I’m always looking for a new side dish to try, especially healthy ones. This sounds perfect and delicious!

  7. Amanda Mason
    May 27, 2018

    5.03

    This recipe reminds me of good ole Southern Style greens! I’ve never heard of callaloo before. Looks so healthy and good for you! YUM! Loved the nutritional benefits in this article!!

  8. Sara
    May 27, 2018

    What an awesome new vegetable to try! And I love that you have it in your container garden – I’m an urban gardener, as well … growing plants in small places is actually so much fun! Can’t wait to look for this veggie so I can try it out! <3

  9. Eileen Kelly
    May 27, 2018

    5.03

    Such a perfect veggie recipe. I have not had this in years and it was delicious them. I have got to make this with your recipe, drooling over it! Such great flavors!

  10. Sharon
    May 25, 2018

    5.03

    What a wonderful recipe to give my family an opportunity to try a new vegetable. Looks delicious!

  11. Paige
    May 24, 2018

    5.03

    Well this kind of reminds me of kale! The prepation looks and sounds delicious and interesting too!

  12. Kelli Kerkman
    May 23, 2018

    This looks amazing! If I can’t find callaloo, does spinach work? Or does it need to be a heartier green?

    • Clive
      August 11, 2018

      If you can obtain it I would think Swiss chard would be an alternative.

  13. Gloria
    May 22, 2018

    5.03

    That sounds like an interesting veggie. I know I have not seen it around here. I will have to look at a Jamaican market and see if I can find it.

  14. Elaine @ Dishes Delish
    May 22, 2018

    5.03

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen this vegetable before! I want to try it because I love all greens and if it tastes like spinach, I will so adore it! I hope I find it so I can make your recipe!

  15. Fiona
    May 21, 2018

    Thank you ever so for you post.Much thanks again.