If you struggle to see the Portuguese connection in this recipe let me explain… This recipe is admittedly a hybrid with Portuguese and Italian influence but it does go back to using nuts, specifically chestnuts in season in the Autumn to provide substance, flavour and overall goodness to meats and vegetables. Here, chestnuts are replaced by peanuts with soft shell (it’s all about the shell!). If in Portugal use cured Queijo da Serra but Parmesan is a good substitute (with apologies to all the goof folks from Parma, Reggio Emilia). If in season use ‘miscaros” instead of Shitake mushrooms.
1 bunch of runner beans split in half lengthways
2 tbsp of peanuts with soft skin (untreated nor flavoured)
2tbsp chopped parsley
1 cup of finely sliced shitake (or miscaros)
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp grated cured queijo da serra or parmesan
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper
- Boil the runner beans in salted water and add bicarb soda after you put the beans in and the water comes back to the boil. Cook until tender but do not overcook (5 minutes should do it).
- While the beans are cooking , toast the peanuts on a shallow frying pan
- Rinse the beans in cold water in a colander to stop overcooking.
- In a mortal and pestle grind the garlic with a little salt, peanuts, parsley and grated cheese.
- Shallow fry the mushrooms in the olive oil on high heat, add salt and pepper when they start browning.
- Add the butter to the mushrooms, add the runner beans and two thirds of the mortar and pestle mixture, warm through.
- Serve with the rest of the mortar and pestle mix on top, shaved cheese. black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Literally translated as ‘small fish from the garden’ these unassuming delicacies have a bit of a world history. Portuguese missionaries traveling to Japan in the 16th century shared the practice of frying green beans in a light batter. The Japanese loved it so much that the practice became widespread and tempura (related to the Portuguese word tempero) became famous the world over. This recipe spreads the global reach of these ‘vegetable fish’ by using tapioca flour from Brazil. Tapioca is a gluten free flour made from casava and makes for an excellent alternative to wheat flour. The search for the perfect batter is a life-time quest and at the moment we think this one is the winner. Although this is a fried food, the wheat free flour and the fact we fry in olive oil makes it guilt free and a healthy starter or side dish.
Continue reading Peixinhos da Horta
Soups are an essential part of a Portuguese traditional meal. Although the most famous is Caldo Verde, Portugal has a lot to offer when it comes to the magic transformation of a few simple vegetables into a tasty and nutritious meal. Soups are normally a simple affair with only one rule – excellent ingredients – just get seasonal veg at the market and you’ll be fine.
This recipe is for a soup that is traditionally from the north of the country that can be a substantial meal in itself. The Portuguese are rather particular about the quality of beans and there is much to choose from when it comes to varieties. This recipe uses a brown coloured bean called manteiga which is similar to pinto beans. Although you can get beans already cooked in a jar, this soup needs the real thing as most of the flavour will come from the water used to cook the beans.
As with most dried beans, soak overnight in plenty of water (you can soak a larger quantity and then freeze the cooked beans to use in other recipes).
Continue reading Bean Soup/Sopa de Feijão
Quince is the thing to look out for when you begin to feel those long sunsets at the end of the summer. This rather acidic, not exactly good looking fruit grows in many places around the world but is often unappreciated. For the Portuguese this is pure seasonal gold! We rush to the local markets and grab the best fruit at the best price and at the right time! Quince, marmelos in Portuguese, are the quintessencial fruit for preserves – marmelada, which became the english marmelade. The word marmelada first appeared in writing by the pen of the Portuguese bard Gil Vicente in 1521. Don’t be fooled by the story that Mary Queen of Scots, who used to eat marmelada when feeling low (who wouldn’t?), invented the word marmelada through her “Marie est malade” (Mary is sick)! In any case, this post is not about marmelada but an alternative way of preparing this delicious fruit which, I guarantee, will become the best friend of your Autumn Sunday roasts.
Continue reading Roasted Quince/Marmelos Assados
A deliciously simply recipe for a starter. Easy to make many of them so ideal for a dinner party (just double or triple the recipe). Queijo da Serra is (some say) the best Portuguese cheese but competition is fierce… I must admit last time I made this, I had fun stuffing some mushrooms with serra and others with Queijo de Azeitão… Diners seemed to have fun trying to guess which one was which and by the time I arrived for a proper tasting they were all gone…
As with all simple preparations, good quality ingredients are key so pick carefully!
Continue reading Mushrooms with Queijo da Serra/Cogumelos com Queijo da Serra
A simple and delicious way of using left over boiled potatoes. “Passadas pela sertã” literally means passed through the frying pan. The olive oil, paprika and garlic lend the potatoes a deep and robust flavour as well as an irresistible crispy texture. This makes an excellent side dish for grilled meats.
Continue reading Pan sautéed potatoes/Batatas passadas pela sertã
A simple and super healthy side dish for meat or fish… Can be eaten hot or cold.
Continue reading Cauliflower and Quinoa Tabouleh
Autumn in Portugal brings lots of goods, just when you think the plentiful summer has come to an end. With the colourful harvest of the vineyards arrive the chestnuts and the magustos, open air festivities celebrating the new wine with chestnuts roasted on a bonfire. Used as compliments to roast meats or as key ingredients in soups long before the potato was introduced from the new world, the chestnut is now a delicacy usually appreciated after a meal. This is the simplest and perhaps the most rewarding way of cooking chestnuts. While traditional roast chestnuts bring out a crispy and fluffy texture, boiling them brings out their unique sweet and nutty flavour.
Read about São Martinho, the chestnut day par excellence!
Continue reading Chestnuts/Castanhas
Caldo Verde is perhaps the most iconic of Portuguese soups. Originating from the north of the country, it has spread across Portugal and is traditionally served as a light first course to a grilled sardine feast. This recipe is a twist on the traditional and replaces potato with a mixture of cauliflower and avocado, making it healthier, low carb and absolutely delicious. The Caldo Verde identity relies not so much on the ingredients that provide sustenance and texture to the soup (traditionally potato) but rather on the extremely thinly of cutting green cabbage (couve galega) and the obligatory olive oil and chouriça. In the absence of the traditional couve galega, Caldo Verde can be made with very thinly sliced kale.
Continue reading Caldo Verde
This recipe claims no historical authenticity but is inspired by the first cookbook to be published in Portugal – Domingos Rodrigues’ Arte de Cozinha (1680). The book is a fascinating journey into a world of flavours that combine recently available spices like saffron, cinnamon and cardamon with european cooking methods. Th Portuguese discoveries of the XIV and XV century transformed the larder of not only Portuguese society but all of Europe as well bringing old Portuguese techniques to South America, India, China and Japan!
The sauce presented here is inspired by a combination of almond flour and egg yolk which seems to have been used as a standard technique for providing body and texture to sauces and soups in Rodrigues’ book. We use it here to produce a light and delicate sauce flavoured with mussel juice, served with roast asparagus.
Continue reading Scallops Domingos Rodrigues/Vieiras à Domingos Rodrigues