Coconut Stewed Callaloo with Sweet Potato Greens

If you haven't yet tried sweet potato greens alongside amaranth greens, then you truly have not yet begun to live! The combination of greens and spices in this dish was absolutely amazing and I have been dreaming about them ever since. 

I first heard of callaloo while in college from my Jamaican roommate who enjoyed cooking and introduced me to many tasty dishes from the island. Unfortunately, callaloo was not one of them because she said it just wasn't something a person could find here in the US, but she spoke of it often.

Now fast forward about twelve years later during a farm tour on our urban farm. One of the women touring in the group began to shout and excitedly point to a tall plant that volunteers itself around the homestead every year. It took me a minute to realize what she was shouting, 'Callaloo! You have callaloo!' She was pointing at a 7ft tall plant that I only knew as amaranth. 

An amaranth volunteer on our homestead

 

Callaloo the dish and the plant are often used interchangeably with those from the Caribbean Islands. It is generally a plant-based dish that's often prepared with greens, okra, onions, tomatoes and spices - and no two islanders make it the same. 

So with an abundance of amaranth greens along with sweet potato greens freshly harvested from our homestead I decided to create my own version of this island favorite. I have already been eating amaranth greens for several years, however sweet potato greens are new to me. 

Sweet potato greens are a cross between turnip greens and spinach. They were slightly bitter when I tasted them raw but found they cook down rather quickly like spinach and the bitterness mellows out dramatically. I also read they are nutrient dense with many benefits such as controlling blood sugar levels, is anti-bacterial, and antioxidant. (Source: University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension). Sweet potatoes take a good amount of time before the roots can be harvested (95 to 120 days!) so utilizing the greens makes a good use of space for food production.

Sweet potato greens

Above is a photo of our sweet potato greens patch. If you look closely, you will see a light blanket of ash - the result of the local wildfires that has surrounded us recently. A reminder to take additional care when cleaning and preparing the harvest. I prepared a 10% vinegar solution to soak and wash all the green in prior to cooking.

I can get a little long winded about these amazing greens. Here's the recipe for my Coconut Stewed Callaloo with Sweet Potato Greens!

Coconut Stewed Callaloo with Sweet Potato Greens

 

Ingredients:

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion (variety of your choice)
3-4 cloves of garlic 
1/2 inch fresh ginger root (grated or finely chopped)
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp harissa powder (optional)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped (or a 15 oz can of dices tomatoes)
1 can coconut milk
1 tsp honey (or 2 tsp brown sugar) - optional
1 bunch of callaloo (amaranth greens)
1 bunch of sweet potato greens
1 bunch of spinach (or a combination of greens of your choice)
Fresh chives (optional, use a fresh herb available in your garden)
Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

1. Heat oil in dutch oven, add onions and cook until slightly translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook 1-2 more minutes until herbs are tender. 
2. Add cumin, coriander, harissa, smoked paprika, and turmeric. Allow spices to 'bloom' and mix thoroughly. Do not allow them to stick and burn - about 1 minute. 
3. Add tomatoes and coconut milk. Turn heat to med-low and simmer for a couple minutes. Add honey or brown sugar and mix well. 
4. In batches, add the greens, folding them into the simmering mixture between each addition. 
5. Once all of the greens are added, taste and adjust flavor to your liking using salt and pepper. Garnish with chives or other fresh herbs.
This is great served with quinoa or other grain. If you make this, let me know how it turned out for you in the comments.
Enjoy!
Judith