Spinach Callaloo with Crabmeat

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Callaloo is a green that is commonly found in Jamaican groceries. It’s still not easy to find in the Ithaca area, so we often use fresh spinach instead. Spinach cooks fast and its distinct taste really shines through in this dish.

Our recipe is adapted from the traditional Jamaican preparation that combines greens with coconut milk and spices. We’ve added sweet, lovely basmati rice and crabmeat—but the dish works just as well without the crab. Actually, swapping in 6-8 ounces of diced seasoned tofu is an alternative to consider.

Spinach Callalou with Crabmeat
Recipe type: main dish, side dish
Cuisine: Caribbean
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1½ to 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme (1 teaspoon fresh)
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • ½cup raw white basmati rice
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 20 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1¾ cups coconut milk (14-ounce can)
  • 8 ounces crabmeat (optional)
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges (optional)
  1. In a heavy soup pot, heat the oil and butter on medium heat.
  2. Add the onions, garlic, salt, turmeric, allspice, coriander, thyme, and nutmeg.
  3. Cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  4. Add the rice and 1 cup of the stock or water.
  5. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the rice is tender.
  6. Meanwhile, rinse the spinach well, remove any tough stems, and coarsely chop the spinach leaves.
  7. When the rice is cooked, stir in the remaining cup of stock or water, the coconut milk, and the crabmeat, if using.
  8. Continue to cook, but don't let the mixture boil.
  9. When hot, stir in the spinach and cook just long enough to thoroughly wilt it.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Serve in bowls with lemon wedges, if you wish.

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