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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.
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 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 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.
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.
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).
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Below, I served my callaloo with Jamaican yellow yam, gluten-free, vegan boiled dumplings, Ackee, and roast breadfruit.
- 1 g
- 3 g
- 8 g
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
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.
Depending on how tender your callaloo is, it can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to cook.