British Tomato Week Recipes: Efo Riro

Spinach is eaten across the world and there are an almost infinite number of ways to serve this versatile, leafy green vegetable.

This stewed version is popular in West Africa, and in some parts of Nigeria it is known as efo riro. The spinach gets a whole new depth of flavour when combined with the deep savoury flavours of ground crayfish before being topped with fried prawns.

The dish has an extra West African elements softening the vegetables in red or unrefined palm oil, which is the traditional cooking fat in the region. It has a rich buttery, almost vegetable-likes that lends a unique flavour and texture to food.


  • 1kg bag frozen spinach (defrosted) - this dish can be made with fresh spinach but is better value with frozen and much easier than trying to fit the equivalent amount of bulky fresh spinach into a saucepan. Look for frozen whole-leaf spinach, particularly for texture.

  • 2 tablespoons sustainable red palm oil

  • 1onion, finely diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced

  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 1 red pepper, chopped finely

  • 3 tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, whole

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 teaspoon ground crayfish  

  • 2 Maggi cubes, crumbled

  • 200g large raw prawns (shell on or peeled)

  • salt and pepper 


  1. Defrost the spinach and then tip it into a clean tea towel and twist to squeeze the excess water out. Allow it to sit and drain further while you cook the base of the stew.
  2. Heat the palm oil in a saucepan on a medium heat. It is solid at room temperature so it's often easier to scoop it out with a spoon. When it becomes liquid and slightly darkened in colour, add the onion and allow to soften for three to five minutes until the onion is tinged orangey-red around the edges.
  3. Add the garlic and strip the thyme leaves off the sprigs and add. Fry for 90 seconds and add the red pepper and tomatoes. Soften them for another three to five minutes, adding a dash of water to help the tomatoes collapse around the edges. Add the Scotch bonnet.
  4. Season with the smoked paprika, cayenne, ground crayfish and the Maggi cubes, adding salt and pepper as needed. Stir through for one minute.
  5. Add another dash of water if it looks dry. Allow to cook for three to five minutes and then add the defrosted spinach and stir well so that it warms through and softens the tomatoes and peppers.
  6. Fry the prawns in a hot frying pan for about two minutes each side until they just turn pink and are still juicy.
  7. Serve hot with the prawns on top of the stewed spinach and fried plantain.