Jamaican Callaloo Recipe (Stewed Greens)
What is Callaloo?
Callaloo is a flavorful stewed collard greens-style dish. Although it’s often called Jamaican Callaloo, this recipe has roots in West Africa and is popular in many countries in the Caribbean islands, like Trinidad and Tobago, and Grenada.
Stewed callaloo is similar to southern stewed collard greens. The veg is cooked low and slow on the stovetop, which makes the greens delightfully soft and tender. However, most collard green recipes rely heavily on bacon, while callaloo is a vegetarian recipe. (It can even easily be altered for vegan friendly!)
Traditionally the recipe is made with edible amaranth leaves and stems, or sometimes taro leaves. However, since this is not widely available in the United States, the next best thing is to use a mix of collard greens and baby spinach leaves. That way, you get the texture of amaranth from the spinach and the flavor from the collards.
What does it taste like?
The mix of two types of onions – sweet onion and scallions – plus tomato, garlic, and habanero create a complex blend of vegetable flavors that really packs a punch. And although not super spicy, these Jamaican greens do have a kick from the pepper.
In fact, my meat-loving son likes stewed callaloo even better than stewed collard greens with bacon. The last time I made this dish he ate an entire plate of just cooked greens!
Ingredients You Need
Amaranth leaves for authentic Jamaican callaloo are hard to find in most of the United States. I use a blend of half fresh spinach leaves and half-collard greens. (From one bunch of collards and a 6-ounce package of spinach.)
To make this easy vegetarian side dish recipe you need:
- Fresh greens like amaranth, collards, and/or spinach – roughly chopped
- Butter – unsalted, or olive oil
- Sweet onion – peeled and chopped
- Red bell pepper – seeded and chopped
- Tomato – cut into 4 wedges
- Scallions – chopped
- Garlic cloves – minced
- Habanero pepper – scotch bonnet pepper
- Dried thyme – a great earthy spice for savory dishes (or fresh thyme)
- Vegetable broth – can be chicken broth for a non-vegetarian recipe
- Salt and pepper – a pinch of both, to taste
How to Make This Easy Recipe
Start by prepping ingredients: Chop the greens, peeled onion, tomato, seeded bell pepper, and scallions. Mince the garlic.
Next, set a large 6 to 8-quart pot over medium heat.
Add the butter, chopped onions, and chopped bell pepper to the pot. Sauté the onions and peppers for 2 to 3 minutes.
Then mix in the tomato wedges, chopped scallions, and garlic. Add one whole uncut habanero to the pot. Sauté another 3 to 4 minutes to soften.
Once the aromatic vegetables are soft and tender, add the dried thyme, broth, 1 teaspoon of salt, and half a teaspoon of pepper.
Stir well, then start adding fresh chopped greens to the pot by the handful. Stir several handfuls of greens into the pot at a time. Let them wilt down for a minute before adding more.
Once all 16 cups of greens are in the pot, cover and simmer the Jamaican Callaloo on medium-low for 30 to 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Get the Complete (Printable) Jamaican Stewed Collard Greens Recipe Below. Enjoy!
Remove the habanero pepper from the pot. Taste, and salt and pepper as needed.
What do you serve with Callaloo?
Alternatively, it’s a great side dish to pair with southern recipes. Serve like you would classic collard greens. Callaloo is delicious alongside Baked Ham with Honey Mustard or simple Grilled Ham Steaks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is callaloo the same as spinach?
Not exactly… If amaranth is not available, Jamaican callaloo is made with a blend of spinach and collard greens – or other hearty greens. So it can have spinach, but it isn’t just spinach.
Is callaloo healthy?
Yes, it is! Although they are cooked down, the hearty green veggies are full of healthy minerals and vitamins.
Because this is a vegetarian recipe, Jamaican greens have less fat than southern collard greens traditionally made with pork.
How to make vegan callaloo?
It is super easy to vegan-ize this classic callaloo recipe! Simply use a dairy-free butter substitute and you have a totally plant-based side dish.
Do leftovers keep well?
The stewed greens are best to enjoy freshly made and warm. However, they will keep well for up to 4 or 5 days in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Reheat in the microwave in short bursts, or in a saucepan on the stovetop. Add a splash of water as necessary.
Looking for More Vegetarian Side Dishes?
- The Best Creamed Spinach
- Fresh Corn Succotash
- Zesty Roasted Okra
- Wilted Honey Butter Kale
- Old-Fashioned Zucchini Casserole
Jamaican Callaloo Recipe
- 16 cups fresh greens roughly chopped (amaranth, collards, spinach)
- 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 1 sweet onion peeled and chopped
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped
- 1 large tomato cut into 4 wedges
- 1 cup chopped scallions chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 habanero pepper scotch bonnet
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper
- Set a large 6 to 8-quart pot over medium heat. Add the butter, chopped onions, and chopped bell pepper to the pot. Sauté the onions and peppers for 2 to 3 minutes. Then mix in the tomato wedges, chopped scallions, garlic, and add one whole uncut habanero to the pot. Sauté another 3 to 4 minutes to soften.
- Once the aromatic vegetables are soft and tender, add the dried thyme, broth, 1 teaspoon of salt, and half a teaspoon of pepper. Stir well, then start adding fresh chopped greens to the pot by the handful. Stir several handfuls of greens into the pot, letting them wilt down for a minute, before adding more.
- Once all 16 cups of greens are in the pot, cover and simmer on medium-low for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the habanero pepper from the pot. Taste, and salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm with southern or Caribbean dishes.
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