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Comfort food: vegetarian feijoada

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

Recipe for a traditional Portuguese bean-and-pork stew.

It’s five pm, nine degrees, dark already, home, still.

You were thinking about doing lounge-room yoga or calling mum or reading your book or reorganising whatever but you’re already too tired, and the rest of the day looks like jar pesto stirred through packet penne and a long scrolling session and a promise to tomorrow’s self to take better care of us.

That’s what this recipe is for.

It’s feijoada—a traditional Portuguese bean-and-pork stew introduced to me by my Timorese boyfriend, through whose homeland Portuguese colonists swept in the 1500s.

Now proudly independent, Timor-Leste kept civil law, Catholicism and a handful of meals well-suited to the legumes, roots and tubers that grow so well in its mountainous middle.

And, in a chilly flat in the middle of Carlton with a vegetarian trying to subsist on more than pesto pasta, it’s the easy, warming, pantry-friendly reminder that everything feels a bit hard and you’re doing the best you can and that your best, tonight, is actually pretty good.

Things to note:

Traditional feijoada recipes use dried beans. For this, canned beans work fine, feel enormously easier and their liquid contains some of the starch you need to thicken the stew, which helps you skip an extra thickening step.

The cabbage is optional and can be easily replaced with any kale, cauliflower, kai lan, etc. you have wilting in your fridge.

This is a vegetarian-ised version of a recipe that traditionally uses pork and beef bits—shoulders, trotters, tongue, tail, ears. It’s a loose interpretation of a dish with its roots in Portugal and its heart in Brazil. And, hopefully, a spot on your dinner table.


Article, photos and recipe: Sophie Raynor


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