Richer in protein, vitamins and iron than traditional non-indigenous crops like collard greens and kale, it’s no wonder that Africa’s super vegetables are currently enjoying a boom in popularity. Get in on the trend by checking out and trying the scrumptious, healthy and super simple African super vegetable recipes below.

Part one of this feature looked at the delightful dishes that can be cooked up from nightshade, jute and the spider plant but this time we’ll be focussing on two new African super vegetables: cowpea leaves and amaranth.

Cooked cowpea leaves

This recipe for cowpea leaves (Vigna unguiculata) comes from South Africa.


4–6 cups tightly filled with young cowpea leaves (use the three or four youngest leaves in a branch), 3 cups of water, 1 chopped tomato (optional), 1 chopped chilli pepper (optional), 1 teaspoon salt.


1. Place the leaves in the sun for one whole day if coarse. Stalks can be removed.

2. Boil the water and add salt.

3. Add the leaves and cook covered for 30 minutes. Stir the cooking leaves once.

4. If desired add one chopped tomato and one chopped chilli pepper.

5. Place back on the fire and cook covered for another 30 minutes.

Extra: Drying cowpea leaves

Older coarse leaves are frequently used for drying.

1. Boil the green leaves for a short time (15 minutes or less).
2. Dry them in the shade and turn leaves over to ensure a uniform drying process and to avoid clumping of leaves.
3. Preserve dried leaves whole, broken or in powder form for use during the dry season.
4. Prepare dried leaves the same as fresh leaves.

Cowpea leaves in soya bean sauce

This recipe for cowpea leaves (Vigna unguiculata) comes from Kenya.


4 cups cowpea leaves, ½ cup water, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 tablespoon cooking fat or oil, 1 onion (chopped), 1 tomato (chopped), 1 cup soya bean or groundnut paste.


1. Wash and chop the cowpea leaves.

2. Fry chopped onion in fat/oil.

3. Add the tomatoes and stir.

4. Add cowpea leaves, water and salt and cook for 10 minutes.

5. Add the soya bean/groundnut paste.

6. Stir and boil for 10 minutes.

For the soya bean paste

1. Wash ½kg of dried soya beans.
2. Add the soya beans to salted water and cook for 30 minutes or until the soya beans are soft.
3. Discard the water and mash the soya beans with a large spoon until a paste is formed.

Amaranth leaves

Amaranth (Amaranthus sp.) is prepared like this in various African countries.


2 bunches of amaranth leaves (3–4 cups), 1 medium onion (chopped), 1 tablespoon of oil/butter/margarine, 1 medium tomato (chopped), Water Salt to taste, Seasoning (optional).


1. Remove the leaves from the stalks and clean them.

2. Boil the water and add salt to taste.

3. Blanch the amaranth leaves and remove them from the water as soon as it begins to boil again.

4. Rinse the leaves in cold water.

5. Cut the amaranth, heat the butter and fry the onions lightly, do not let them turn brown.

6. Add the leaves and stir to prevent them from burning.

7. Cook for 3 minutes.

8. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 1 minute.

9. Add seasoning of your choice.

10. Serve with stew and starch accompaniment.

Amaranth fritters

This recipe for amaranth (Amaranthus sp.) comes from South Africa.


2 cups amaranth leaves, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ¼ cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 onion (finely diced), 1 sweet pepper (finely diced), 1 (sweet) potato (finely diced), ½ cup grated cheese, ½ cup minced meat, Oil for frying (not more than ½ cup).


1. Sort tender leaves of amaranth, wash and cut in small pieces.

2. Mix the dry ingredients.

3. Add other ingredients and form a soft dough.

4. Heat just enough oil in pan for frying.

5. Scoop spoonfuls in a pan with oil to fry until golden brown.

6. Excess oil can be drained on paper towels or brown paper.

Variations: Onion, sweet pepper, (sweet) potato, cheese or minced meat can be replaced by other finely diced vegetables.

Check out part one of this feature, featuring recipes for nightshade, jute and the spider plant

All recipes compiled by IndigenoVeg project

Images via Diggler Photography /International Institute of Tropical Agriculture / urbanworkbench / cc