Amaranth made Phil Callaloopy

Disclaimer #1 – This post is about amaranth making Phil loopy, not absinthe. We’ll save the latter for another day.

Disclaimer #2 – Many pigs were harmed in the making of this recipe. If you are Muslim or Jewish, have a browse through some of my other un-porky recipes. This post masquerades as a Jamaican recipe, but apparently Rastafarians also aren’t into pork, although other Jamaicans might be.

Disclaimer #3 – This isn’t really a disclaimer, but more of a management of expectations. Get ready for two, yes, two, recipes for the price of one today! Side dish AND soup.

The other day, my Dad very proudly presented me with a big bag of green. No, I didn’t grow up on the wrong side of the tracks. Each summer, my Dad grows himself a little garden – his grandfather and father used to grow veggies, so we come from a long line of turning some dirt and coming up with something edible. Here are a few of his zucchinis from last year.


It’s a little garden that gives big. So he was proud to have grown a few veggies especially for me this year – “raw” materials for my odd food blog.

The big bag of green was Jamaican (honest, right side of the tracks), and he bought the seeds as callaloo, although after reading a bit I think the greens are technically called amaranth and are used to make a dish called callaloo, but this might change regionally. Don’t worry your pretty little selves about it too much, mon.


IMG_4253I found a recipe here – I actually thought it was a Jamaican blog, but looking at the website on the computer rather than my phone, I see that the cooks are of the paler variety. But I don’t judge, mon. The recipes are good. If you can’t find these exact leafies, you can substitute spinach, kale, or other hearty greens.

And are we ready for the various hams and bacons? You know you are. We’re going to start with a soup to soften up the greens, then “leave,” to make a side dish, then return to the soup. Got me?

Coconut milk callaloo with pancetta (side dish serving 4)

Start cooking at around 3pm or earlier for dinner

  • 1 large bag of greens. If using amarinth, they are surprisingly like big leaves of a tree. Cut out the tough central spine (like how you would for kale) and chop roughly
  • 1 smoked chunk of meat. I used a pork hock (click link to learn more about pork hocks), but original recipe suggests a smoked turkey wing


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2C cider vinegar (I actually used white wine vinegar because I didn’t have cider)
  • soup pot of water
  • 1 good chunk of pancetta, diced. If you can’t find this, use bacon
  • 1/2 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed with knife, then diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2Tbsp oregano
  • 2Tbsp basil
  • 1Tbsp celery seed
  • 1Tbsp paprika
  • Generous sprinkling of pepper
  • Add hot pepper if you prefer spicy – I cooked for kids so left spiciness out

1. Submerge smoked hunk of meat into soup pot and cover well with water. Add vinegar and spices. Bring to a boil and then simmer with lid on for at least one hour, longer if you’re not in a rush. Add greens and simmer for about an hour (one hour minimum for hock and greens together)

2. Now is a good time to prep your meat course, if you want something to go with the greens.

3. About 15 minutes before you’re ready to eat the greens, fry up some diced pancetta until crispy. If you don’t often cook with this, you should – it’s like bacon in a hunk, so when you dice it, it makes the loveliest salty little meat cubes


4. Remove the greens from the pot with a slotted spoon, and add to the pancetta pan. Pour coconut milk over and cook until heated.



Here’s how much Phil liked it:


I’d call that a success.

And now for recipe #2…

Callaloo Soup Protein Bashment (Jamaican word for party)

  • Soup stock and smoked meat from recipe above. Meat picked away from bone post-long-simmer. Meat re-added, bone discarded
  • 1 package sausages, pan fried and diced
  • 2 healthy handfuls of raw shrimp, peeled


  • Extra greens if you used them all in part 1 – I ran out of callaloo, so I added 2-3 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 14oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1. Fry up your sausages. I know you’re going to ask “how many?” but just use your judgement or what you have on hand. The joy of soup is that if you use less, it’s just less chunky. If you use more, it lasts longer

2. Toss everything into the soup, including pork meat picked from boiled hock. Make sure your greens get enough time simmering to be soft. Shrimp should be added only a few minutes before serving

3. Serve it up!


Sorry for the quality of that last picture. All this cooking took a while so you can be sure I was into the wine by the time it was all done.

Results: Tasty and reasonably healthy! I was surprised that the pork hock didn’t give off more fat – even the next day there wasn’t a gross layer across the top. My little guy liked this soup because its flavours were quite light. I especially liked how the process gave two recipes for the price of one. Big up to dem dawtas who passed the raw recipe along. And to mi fawda who grew the actual raw ingredients! Irie. Rating: 4 Yums


  1. Leave a Reply

    Jovina Coughlin
    July 29, 2013

    Learned something new from reading your blog, today. Never heard of amarinth greens. I have heard of callaloo but didn;t realize it contained special greens.I probably can’t find them where I live. Collards are what’s popular here.

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      July 29, 2013

      Ooh, then you’re in luck! Collards were specifically mentioned as one of the alternative greens for this recipe. Have you tried a version of callaloo before? It seems like there are lots of callalicous possibilities.

      • Leave a Reply

        Jovina Coughlin
        July 29, 2013

        I had it a few times when we visited some of the islands in the Caribbean. I know there are also Latin American versions but I have only had the island version. Then, of course, there is Jimmy Buffett’s song by the same name..,

        • Leave a Reply

          Ann Allchin
          July 29, 2013

          Cool! I’ll have to look up the song!

  2. Leave a Reply

    July 30, 2013

    Love it! Looks delish. The pics look beautiful! I especially like the one of Phil slurping the last bits in the bowl 🙂

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      July 30, 2013

      Thanks! He does pride himself on his table manners

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