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Deliciously Simple Jamaican Callaloo Recipe

Jamaican callaloo is a delicious and nutritious dish that is easy to make at home. With its rich flavors and hearty ingredients, it’s no wonder why it’s a beloved part of Caribbean cuisine. Give this recipe a try and experience the taste of Jamaica in your own kitchen.

A close-up view of the nutritious and flavorful Jamaican Callaloo.

What is Jamaican Callaloo?

Jamaican Callaloo is a beloved dish in Jamaican cuisine that is both healthy and flavorful. It is made primarily from callaloo leaves, a leafy green made with amaranth leaves, and often combined with other ingredients like onion, garlic, scotch bonnet, tomatoes, and seasonings.

You can enjoy this dish as a standalone stew or pair it with Jamaican rice and beans, bread, or fried plantains.

Why It’s Good and Why You Should Try It:

  • Nutritional Powerhouse: Callaloo leaves are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making this dish not only delicious but also incredibly nutritious.
  • Rich Flavor Profile: The combination of callaloo leaves, coconut milk, and spices creates a flavor explosion that’s both satisfying and comforting.
  • Cultural Experience: A fantastic way to explore new flavors and expand your culinary horizons.

Ingredients for making Jamaican Callaloo

  1. Callaloo (Amaranth or Taro Leaves): rich in vitamins and minerals. It provides a tender texture and unique taste.
  2. Vegetable oil: is commonly used for sautéing onions, garlic, and other ingredients, enhancing flavor and ensuring even cooking.
  3. Onions and garlic: are aromatic ingredients that enhance the dish’s flavor profile, providing a savory base and adding depth and richness.
  4. Scotch Bonnet Pepper: add heat to the dish. You can adjust the heat level to your taste. 
  5. Thyme: adds a unique aroma and flavor to Callaloo, complementing other ingredients for savory and herbaceous notes.
  6. Tomato: for added depth of flavor and color.
  7. Bell peppers: enhance the taste by providing a sweet, slightly tangy flavor and vibrant colors.
  8. Salt and black pepper: essential seasonings enhancing the overall taste and adding a subtle kick to dishes.
  9. Chicken Stock or Water: to enhance the overall flavor profile. 
  10. Scallions or green onions: add flavor and color to dishes, providing a mild onion taste and a pop of color.
A hearty serving of Jamaican Callaloo, a staple in Caribbean cuisine.

How to cook Jamaican Callaloo

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion and saute until softened. Stir in minced garlic, scotch Bonnet pepper, and thyme, and cook for 1 minute to release the aroma.
  3. Add the tomato and bell pepper and cook until they soften.
  4. Add in the sliced callaloo leaves and season with salt and black pepper. Stir until the ingredients are well mixed.
  5. Reduce the heat, add the stock, cover the saucepan, and allow it to simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. During this time, the callaloo leaves will cook down, and the flavors will blend together nicely.
  6. Add in the finely chopped scallions. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt or pepper if necessary.

How to Clean and Chop the Callaloo

Cleaning and chopping Callaloo involves a few steps to ensure you remove any dirt or impurities and prepare the leaves for cooking. Here’s a simple guide:

  • Separate the Leaves: separate the leaves from the stems. The stems can be tough, so you’ll primarily use the tender leaves for cooking.
  • Rinse Under Cold Water: Rinse the leaves thoroughly under cold running water. Gently rub the leaves with your fingers to remove any dirt or debris. If the Callaloo has a lot of sand or dirt, soak it in a large bowl of water and gently swish the leaves around.
  • Inspect for Blemishes: While rinsing, inspect the leaves for any blemishes or damaged areas. Remove any yellowed or bruised parts.
  • Trim Tough Stems (if necessary): If the stems are thick and tough, you may trim them away, leaving only the tender part of the leaves. The stems are edible but can take longer to cook.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use substitutes for callaloo leaves?

The traditional recipe uses amaranth leaves, but you can substitute spinach or other leafy greens like kale or collard greens. Although it won’t quite capture the authentic flavor of Jamaican Callaloo, it can still yield a delicious dish.

 Can I make Jamaican Callaloo vegetarian or vegan?

Yes, you can easily convert Jamaican Callaloo to a vegetarian or vegan version by omitting the chicken stock for vegetable stock.

How can I adjust the heat?
You can deseed the Scotch Bonnet pepper to reduce the heat or use a milder pepper.

Pro Tip: To retain the vibrant green color of the leaves, don’t cover the pot while the Callaloo is simmering.

Callaloo/collard Greens and Spinach – Are they the same thing?

No, Callaloo, Collard Greens, and Spinach are different. They are different leafy greens, each with its own distinct characteristics and flavors.

Callaloo also known as the broad leaf spinach typically refers to the leafy greens of the amaranth plant. Callaloo has a unique taste and texture, and the leaves are often cooked and used in soups, stews, or sautéed dishes.

Collard Greens are part of the Brassica family, which includes cabbage, kale, and broccoli. They have large, dark green, tough leaves and a slightly bitter taste. Collard greens are often associated with Southern American cuisine.

Baby spinach is a leafy green vegetable in the amaranth family. It has tender, dark green leaves and a slightly sweet flavor. Spinach is versatile and can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in various dishes such as sautés, casseroles, and soups.

While all three are nutritious leafy greens, they come from different plant families, have distinct flavors, and are used in various culinary traditions. If a recipe calls specifically for Callaloo, substituting it with Collard Greens or baby spinach may alter the dish’s taste and texture.

A traditional Jamaican Callaloo dish, made with fresh Callaloo leaves and aromatic spices.
Callaloo – Callaloo (6)

Tips

  • Choose fresh, vibrant amaranth or taro leaves for optimal flavor and texture, ensuring they are tender and free from wilting.
  • Wash callaloo leaves thoroughly to remove dirt and debris, and trim any tough stems before cooking.
  • Traditional recipes often use amaranth or taro leaves, but you can experiment with other leafy greens like spinach if callaloo leaves are unavailable.
  • Slowly simmering Callaloo allows flavors to blend, enhancing its overall taste and texture.

How to store this Dish

To maintain the freshness of Jamaican Callaloo, follow these guidelines: 

  • Store in a container with a lid and refrigerate. 
  • For long storage, freeze it. 
  • When you are ready to use it, check for freshness, thaw, and reheat it. 
  • Avoid repeated freezing and thawing.
  • Store in portions. Avoid overcrowding to maintain the dish’s flavor and texture.

What to serve with this recipe? 

Jamaican Callaloo is a delicious stew that pairs well with various side dishes. Rice and peas, fried plantains, dough bread, boiled dumplings, bammy, Jamaican festival dumplings, Jamaican coco bread, fried or steamed fish, avocado slices, and a green salad are all delicious options to complement the dish’s rich flavors.

Other Delicious Jamaican Recipes

A close-up view of the nutritious and flavorful Jamaican Callaloo.

Jamaican Callaloo

Jamaican Callaloo – a nutritious leafy green dish steamed with aromatics, scotch bonnet, and thyme. Learn how to prepare this Caribbean culinary delight at home.
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 93.4kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 stalk bundle fresh callaloo about 1½ -2 Fresh, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper optional for heat, de seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 springs fresh thyme
  • 1 large tomato chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper any color will work, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp Chicken Stock or Water
  • 1/4 cup scallions chopped

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the chopped onion and saute until softened. Stir in minced garlic, scotch Bonnet pepper, and thyme, and cook for 1 minute to release the aroma.
  • Add the tomato and bell pepper and cook until they soften.
  • Add in the sliced callaloo leaves and season with salt and black pepper. Stir until the ingredients are well mixed.
  • Reduce the heat, add the stock, cover the saucepan, and allow it to simmer for about 5 to 7 minutes. During this time, the callaloo leaves will cook down and the flavors will blend together nicely.
  • Add in the finely chopped scallions. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt or pepper if necessary.

Notes

  • Choose fresh, vibrant amaranth or taro leaves for optimal flavor and texture, ensuring they are tender and free from wilting.
  • Wash callaloo leaves thoroughly to remove dirt and debris, and trim any tough stems before cooking.
  • Traditional recipes often use amaranth or taro leaves, but you can experiment with other leafy greens like spinach if callaloo leaves are unavailable.
  • Slowly simmering Callaloo allows flavors to blend, enhancing its overall taste and texture.

Nutrition

Calories: 93.4kcal | Carbohydrates: 7.3g | Protein: 1.4g | Fat: 7.1g | Saturated Fat: 1.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1.6g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 0.2mg | Sodium: 597.5mg | Potassium: 221.5mg | Fiber: 1.8g | Sugar: 3.6g | Vitamin A: 1299.8IU | Vitamin C: 50.4mg | Calcium: 22.8mg | Iron: 0.5mg

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Recipe Rating




Maude Parisian

Friday 22nd of March 2024

From the insightful commentary to the captivating writing, every word of this post is top-notch. Kudos to the author for producing such fantastic content.