Student Choice
Place of Learning: 
Grade Level: 
Students will practice cooking greens and learn about the food geography of the Caribbean.
Materials & Prep: 
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 3 cups sweet potatoes (approximately 3 small sweet potatoes), peels left on
  • 24 cups (about 3 lbs) greens, either spinach, amaranth greens, or collard greens
  • Salt
  • Pepper mill with peppercorns
  • 6 green onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bell peppers or 3 jalapeno peppers
Tools and Equipment
  • sauté pan (must be usable on an induction burner, if using)
  • wooden spoon or tongs
  • 2 white ramekins
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon measuring spoon
  • 5 cutting boards
  • 5 knives, either paring knives or plastic lettuce knives
  • induction burner or stove
  • can opener
  • 4 large bowls
  • 3 4-cup liquid measuring cups
  • 1 cup liquid measuring cup
  • microplane grater or garlic press
  • 30 plates
  • 30 forks
  • 30 cups
  • Maps with highlighted countries
  • dry erase markers for every student
  • Callaloo Recipe – PDF
  • Chalk Board Visual Aid – PDF
  • Recipe creation sheets for Trinidad, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica – PDF

Procedure Steps: 
Food Prep and Tray Set Up
  1. Food Prep
    • Par-boil 3 cups of sweet potatoes (about 3 small) and cut them into strips
    • Open 2 cans of coconut milk and pour them into a 4 cup liquid measuring cup
    • Cut 1 1⁄2 green peppers into thin strips
  2. Chopping Station – 3 trays per class of ~30 students, each tray containing:
    • 1lb of greens, stems on
    • 1⁄2 green pepper’s worth of strips
    • 2 green onions
    • 1 cup’s worth of sweet potatoes
    • 1-2 large bowls
    • 2-3 pairing knives
    • 2-3 cutting boards
    • 2-3 pairs of safety scissors
  3. Middle Station (classroom teacher)
    • Worksheets in plastic sleeves
    • 10 dry erase markers
    • Maps in plastic sleeves (2 Jamaica, 2 Trinidad, 2 Dominican
    • Republic)
    • a few cloths to wipe plastic sheets
  4. Seasoning Station – 1 tray per class of ~30 students
    • 1 cup coconut milk (in liquid measuring cup)
    • Black pepper grinder
    • 3 cloves of garlic (peel still on)
    • Salt (in white ramekin)
    • 3 sprigs thyme
    • 1 cup liquid measuring cup
    • 2 4-cup liquid measuring cups
    • 1⁄4 teaspoon
    • Microplane
    • Grade-appropriate task cards
    • Small white ramekin
  5. Sauté Trays – 2 trays per class of ~30, each tray containing:
    • Olive oil (in squirt bottle)
    • High-sided large pan
    • Wooden spoon
    • Tongs
    • Pot holder

Introduce the theme for today's lesson:

  1. Today we will make a dish called Callaloo which comes from tropical Caribbean islands like Trinidad, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic (Point to the countries on a world map).
    • These are places that are warm for most of the year, and they grow things such as coconuts and lemons.
    • We will look at how people eat different foods in different climates, and at how traditional dishes change when people move around the world.
    • Today you will chop, measure, saute, and look closely at our recipe at our three stations.
Making Callaloo
  1. Chopping Table
    • Discuss amaranth
    • Callaloo has lots of green leafy vegetables in it. Hold up one of the greens from the recipe.
    • What part of the plant is this? What other leaves do you eat?
    • Today we are going to chiffonade the leaves of this green and eat them with some other delicious vegetables.
    • Talk about the steps of saute
    • We will put the pepper, green onions, and sweet potato in the pan earlier because they take longer to cook than the greens. We will add the greens later, so we are putting them in a separate bowl.
    • Chiffonade Greens: stack two leaves neatly. Roll the stack into a caterpillar shape. Cut thin slices out of the roll. These turn into ribbons.
    • Chop (5 students have knives, 5 have scissors):
    • Greens (each of the 5 students with knives try the chiffonade on a couple greens leaves before moving on to pepper, or sweet potato)
    • Sweet potato (up to 3 students)
    • Bell pepper (up to 3 students)
    • Green onion (up to 5 students without knives use safety scissors to chop scallions into very small pieces
    • Students with knives switch halfway through to scissors and vice versa.
    • Chiffonaded greens get put into a bowl on their own.
    • Sweet potato, bell pepper, and green onion get put into a separate bowl.
    • Vegetables are put to the side. Saute happens after students have visited each of the three stations
    • The last group clears the table and the teacher sets up the burner on one side of the table.
  2. Middle Table
    • When enslaved West Africans came to Trinidad, Jamaica, or the Dominican Republic, they changed the foods they were used to making based on what was growing there. One of these foods was callaloo.
    • You are going to figure out what ingredients will go into callaloo in different countries.
    • Break the students into three groups--Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Trinidad, and hand the recipe sheet that corresponds with their country.
    • Have the students read their country’s background information paragraph, then compare and contrast each other’s countries. i.e. Jamaica depends on fishing, and the Dominican Republic has a lot of farmland.
    • Next the students will work in their country-team to design their own callaloo recipe. Encourage the students to think about the “taste” section and think about flavors or textures that work together.
    • After the students have circled the ingredients they want in their recipe based on the different categories on the worksheet, have them write down the final ingredients in the blanks at the end of the worksheet.
    • Lastly, pair the students with someone from another “country” and have them share back what was available to them in their country and why they chose the ingredients for their particular Callaloo recipe. Then, the students can compare and contrast their recipes.
  3. Measuring / Sauce Table:
    • Measure the remaining ingredients
    • 3 students measure the coconut milk and pour it into a large liquid measuring cup
    • 2 students grind the pepper into the large liquid measuring cup
    • 1 student measures the salt
    • 2 students grate and add the garlic
    • 2 students take the thyme off of the plant
    • Talk about how recipes change based upon location and climate
    • Bring out the world map and point to the Caribbean Sea and its proximity to the equator. Explain that countries that are close to the equator are warm for most of the year, and the reverse is true the further away from the equator that you get.
    • Point to different places on the map and see if students know anything about the climate.
    • Talk about what foods might be found in the different climates. What grows in our garden? What might be different in a garden in Jamaica?
    • If you moved to a new country, what recipes would you want to bring with you?
  4. Sauté
    • Students at the middle table are broken up into two groups, one group standing in a semi-circle around each of the two stove stations.
    • Saute ingredients
    • 1 student adds the olive oil to the pan
    • 1 student adds the onions, peppers and sweet potatoes to the pan
    • We add these ingredients first so they can soften and release their flavors. The greens are added last so they barely wilt. They’re soft so they take less time to cook than the hard sweet potato and pepper.
    • Every student takes turns stirring the ingredients
    • 1 student then adds the greens to the pan
    • 1 student adds the seasonings to the pan
    • Every student takes turns stirring the pan.
    • Teacher moves the pot and stove, divides the ingredients so they are in three equal amounts for the three tables.

Academic Standards

Common Core State Standards

English Language Arts 3–5


Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.


This lesson is part of the Edible Schoolyard NYC curriculum.