Jump-start your day with Caribbean greens and eggs
During a recent family getaway to Jamaica, I devoured at least one helping of callaloo every day. Callaloo is both the name of a dish, a staple all over the Caribbean, and the vegetable it is made with — the leafy greens from amaranth, taro and other plants, depending on the region.
Throughout my stay, I enjoyed callaloo at breakfast, lunch and dinner, prepared various ways — always with onions, scallions, garlic, thyme and a bit of Scotch bonnet pepper, but sometimes simmered with tomatoes, or with bits of red bell pepper or shaved carrot, and sometimes topped with crispy bits of bacon. I enjoyed it every which way, but what struck me most was how tasty it was with eggs in the morning. It got me wondering why I don’t regularly include leafy greens at breakfast, so I resolved to start.
When I got home, I whipped up a batch of greens that was at least close to what I had in Jamaica. I couldn’t find amaranth or taro leaves so I substituted a combination of spinach and Swiss chard to approximate the dish’s tender but firm texture. It’s important to use mature spinach here rather than baby spinach, which would turn soft way too quickly. Because I enjoyed the way bits of stem added texture to the callaloo dishes I tried, I included the tender stems of the greens I used, too. I sautéed onion, scallion, hot pepper (I used habanero because I could not find Scotch bonnet) as well as red bell pepper for color and a touch of sweetness. I added the firmer chard stems to cook for a couple of minutes, then stirred in garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, and finally, piled on the greens, letting them steam in the pan until they were just wilted but still bright.
I savored these flavorful greens every morning for a week — topped with a fried egg, sprinkled with scallions, and served with a thick slice of whole grain toast alongside. To reheat the leftovers, I simply warmed a portion in the pan before cooking the egg.
I came away with a lot from my Jamaica trip: I took in sun and surf and spent quality time with family, but one of the best things I brought back was a newfound love for greens and eggs for breakfast.
Greens and Eggs
This dish is a take on a Jamaican callaloo, a saute of leafy greens with onion, scallion, garlic, thyme and Scotch bonnet pepper that is served at any meal of the day, including with eggs at breakfast. In the United States it can be hard to find the amaranth or taro leaves typically used, so this recipe approximates the texture with the leaves and tender stems of mature spinach and Swiss chard.
Serve with whole-grain toast, rice or another cooked grain, or potato, if desired.
Storage: Refrigerate leftover greens for up to 4 days; serve at room temperature or reheat.
For the greens
One (8- to 10-ounce) bunch mature spinach, washed and dried
One (8- to 10-ounce) bunch Swiss chard, washed and dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion (5 ounces), chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 scallions, chopped, dark-green parts reserved for garnish
1 teaspoon finely minced, seeded Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, or to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons water
For the eggs
2 teaspoons olive oil or butter
4 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
Make the greens: Trim any tough brown ends from the stems of the spinach and Swiss chard. Cut the spinach leaves and tender stems into 3/4-inch pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Tear or cut the Swiss chard leaves away from their stems and center ribs (don’t throw away the stems/ribs). Chop the leaves into 3/4-inch pieces and transfer them to a separate bowl. Dice the chard stems into 1/4-inch pieces and keep those separate as well.
In a large, deep, lidded skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper, scallions (white and light-green parts only), and the Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper (1 teaspoon of the hot pepper will yield a mild-medium heat). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the chard stems and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until aromatic, another 30 seconds.
Add the chard leaves and the water, stir, then cover and cook until the chard is wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach, re-cover, and cook until the greens are wilted but still bright green, another 2 minutes. Uncover and remove from the heat.
Make the eggs: In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat the oil or melt the butter. Add the eggs and cook to your liking.
To serve, place about 3/4 cup of the greens onto each serving plate. Top each with an egg, season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with the reserved scallion greens. Serve hot.
From cookbook author and registered dietitian nutritionist Ellie Krieger.