Efo Riro (Stewed Amaranth Greens)

Efo Riro (Stewed Amaranth Greens)

Efo riro is a rich vegetable side dish that can accompany various starches and can be cooked with or without fish or meat. It is rich enough that the starches it accompanies — various pounded starches called fufu, fluffy steamed rice, boiled plantains or yams, to name a few — can come very much unadorned. While the leafy, hearty amaranth greens form the traditional base, mature spinach is a great substitute, and, though rare in Nigerian cuisine, collards or kale can also be used. It is crucial to blanch fresh greens and squeeze out as much liquid as possible before adding to the obe ata base of puréed tomatoes, peppers and onions. If using frozen greens, defrost ahead of time and repeat the squeezing process. The last thing you want to do is dilute all those incredible flavors you’ve spent time building.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 6 persons



  1. Step 1

    Combine all the obe ata ingredients except the canola oil in a blender and purée on high until smooth, working in batches if needed. The liquid from the can of tomatoes should suffice, but you can add up to 1/4 cup of water if necessary to get the purée going. (You should have about 3 cups of purée.)
  2. Step 2

    Heat the canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add the purée and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced by about a third of its original volume, 18 to 20 minutes. (It should make about 2 cups.)
  3. Step 3

    Meanwhile, if using fresh greens, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high and prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. (You can skip this blanching step if using frozen spinach.) Pick the leaves off the bunch of amaranth greens, if using, and discard the tough stems. Once the water is boiling, blanch the leaves until bright green and just tender, about 2 minutes. (You can work in batches if necessary.) Cool greens immediately by transferring to the ice bath using a slotted spoon.
  4. Step 4

    In a large, deep skillet or sauté pan, heat the canola oil over medium-high. Sauté the onion and bell pepper until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the dried crayfish, fermented locust beans and turmeric. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute, lowering the heat if necessary to avoid scorching.
  5. Step 5

    Stir in the obe ata and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce thickens slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and stir in the red palm oil. Cook for 1 more minute.
  6. Step 6

    Remove the greens from the ice bath and squeeze out as much water as you can. (You want the greens to be as dry as possible so you don’t dilute the vibrant flavors of the sauce.) If using frozen greens, squeeze out any excess liquid before using.
  7. Step 7

    Add the greens to the skillet and stir to coat with the sauce. Gently stir in the flaked fish. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the greens and fish are warmed through, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste.