Haitian Legumes

I have a Haitian friend who’s always bragging about how her children love to eat this vegetable dish she makes that contains carrots, green beans, spinach, cabbage, eggplant, and red pepper. All that vegetables in one dish?  And her kids gobble them up?  Of course I had to give it a try. Plus, I’m always looking for new ways to use up the 1/2 head of cabbage that’s languishing away in my vegetable drawer.

This is my friend, “Sexy Mama”.

TY #9 Sexy Mama

Pretty, isn’t she?

This is the dish.


Not as pretty to look at, but certainly tasty to eat all mixed up with steamed rice.

Sexy Mama tells me that this very traditional Haitian dish doesn’t really have a name. It’s just called legumes (vegetables in French). But go to any Haitian household or restaurant and order legumes and you’ll get a rendition of this dish.

This an easy one-pot dish to make and traditionally made, it requires very little work aside from some vegetable preparation.

I always like to follow the directions of a new recipe to the letter so I can see how it’s supposed to taste. Subsequently, I’ll modify to my own taste and whim.

I loved the result from the traditional directions. All the vegetables got cooked down soft and mushy, perfect for mixing it up with rice. I can eat rice mixed with stuff (the legumes here or curry or Korean stew or anything similar) all day long.

D and S liked the taste well enough, but not the texture. They like their vegetables with a little more crunch and texture. They like being able to distinguish the carrots from the green beans.

In my second go around, I modified the recipe to allow for shorter cooking time resulting in more texture and the results were prettier, too. The vegetables retained their color and shape better with short cooking time.

However it’s cooked, the taste is sublime.

Here are some of fresh ingredients. I didn’t bother taking photos of the frozen stuff. My friend recommends the Maggi brand chicken bullion.


In my second attempt, I chopped the cabbage smaller and cubed the eggplant rounds.

Start the dish by sauteing briefly the garlic and onions in oil. Then add in the red pepper and stir for another few seconds. Then add the tomato past and bullion cubes and stir until well mixed and looks like the photo below.


You’ll need a large pot, preferably a non-stick or a dutch oven to prevent burning. I’m using a 4.5 qt dutch oven… I think. I would say use 5.5 or larger to be safe.

Per my friend’s directions, layer other ingredients in the following order: shrimp, frozen green beans, lima beans, spinach, carrots, eggplant and cabbage. Cook covered on low heat for 30 minutes, turn all the ingredients over and cook uncovered another 15 minutes or until the liquid is reduced.

The directions below is my modified directions from my second attempt which is shown below.


Serve it with plain steamed rice or rice and beans.


Haitian Legumes

Prep time: 10 mins     Cook time: 30 mins

Serves: 6 – 8

*For vegetarian option, use vegetable bullion cubes or broth and leave out the shrimp.


3 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
2 cubes chicken bullion (preferably Maggi brand)
3 tablespoon tomato paste
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch thick or less rounds
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into medium sized cubes
10 ounces frozen cut green beans
10 ounces frozen shopped spinach
1 cup frozen baby lima beans
1/2 head cabbage, sliced 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound medium-sized shrimp, cleaned and de-veined (optional or can use other meat)


In a large non-stick pot on medium heat, add olive oil. Sauté garlic and onion for a minute or until the garlic starts to turn golden. Add peppers and stir. Add chicken bullion and tomato paste. Break up the bullion and stir until pasty. Add carrots, eggplant, and lima beans, stirring in between until all the ingredients are coated.

Turn down the heat to low. Add green beans, spinach, cabbage and shrimp as the final layer. Cover and let it simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften.  Uncover, stir and cook for another 10 – 15 minutes to reduce the liquid liquid.

Serve with plain rice or with rice and beans.


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