Friday, March 21, 2008

Recipe: Brazillian Black Bean Stew (aka Feijoada)

This is a recipe adapted from one found in an old issue of "Vegetarian Times". Traditionally, feijoada -- a dish popular in both Brazil and Portugal -- is meat-laden, but this animal-free take on it is delicious, as well as more nutritious and much lower in fat and cholesterol. Feijoada is known as Brazil's "national dish" and it's apparently commonly served in most restaurants there, however fine the dining. The "Vegetarian Times" article suggested serving it with steamed Swiss chard wrapped in warmed tortillas. Traditionally, it's a thick stew served with a pot of hot pepper sauce and the following side-dishes: rice, chopped and refried kale or collard greens, lightly roasted (coarse) casava flour (called farofa), and orange segments. Sometimes it's served with deep-fried casava or deep-fried bananas. It's usually enjoyed with caipirinhas (a popular Brazilian alcoholic beverage) or beer.

Brazilian Black Bean Stew

1 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2-3 medium garlic cloves, minced or crushed
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 (or more) hot green chili pepper, minced

half a large (28 oz / 796 ml) can of diced tomatoes -- don't drain 'em
2-16 oz cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp salt

Optional: Cooked rice, chopped steamed (and fried, if you'd like) kale / collars / Swiss chard, orange segments.

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until it's softened. Stir in the garlic and cook an extra 3 minutes until the onion is golden.

Stir in the sweet potatoes, peppers, tomatoes w/ liquid and bring to a boil. Lower heart and simmer around 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender but still firm. Stir in the beans and simmer uncovered, ever so gently, until everything is heated through.

Stir in the mango and cook another minute, until heated through. Stir in cilantro and salt to taste. Preferably using ceramic bowls or platters for authenticity, ladle the stew on top of a mound of rice. Place the chopped greens and orange segments (if using) around the edges of the dish. Sprinkle the chopped greens and orange segments with farofa (if available) and splash some hot sauce on the side of some of the stew. Eat while hot! Serves 6.

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