Portugal boasts a multitude of reasons to visit, not just its delicious comfort food. This small seaside country isn’t technically Mediterranean as it touches the Atlantic Ocean. However, its people and cuisine are classified as such. There are spectacular cities like Lisbon and Porto as well as the wine production area in the Douro valley. In addition, it has highest percentage of blue flag beaches in Europe. Visitors can see beautiful rivers, inland mountains and forests. Furthermore, Portugal has history that spans back to the golden age of exploration.
Finally, for those of us who travel for the cuisine, Portugal is home to an amazing and sometimes hearty food. Typical dishes use local, simple ingredients with roots based in a poorer, peasant cuisine. Portugal is home to some of our favorite comfort food dishes! These plates are worth a try as the weather turns from summer sun to fall (even though Portugal has more sunlight hours than any other European country). Here are some of our favorite foods to try in the fall!
This thick bread soup couldn’t be more simpler to make. To start, you make a broth of garlic, cilantro stems and good Portuguese olive oil. After, you pour this broth over stale bread (humble food that doesn’t waste anything) to make a thick porridge. Traditionally, cilantro leaves are a garnish. You can add bacalhau or even a runny egg to make this soothing soup for the fall the ultimate comfort food.
Feijoada: International comfort food
This is the Portuguese version of a Mediterranean dish we have seen in other countries. Like cassoulet in France, cassoeula in Italy and fabada asturiana in Spain, this meat and bean stew is the ultimate comfort food. It is common in Portugal as well as throughout its one time colonies. Brazilians love it with black beans and Macau as well claims it as the it national dish! In addition to the beans, chorizo, sausages, ribs and root vegetables can be used to round out this hearty comfort food.
Bolinhos de bacalhau (in northern Portugal)or
Pastéis de bacalhau (in the central and southern regions)
Dried salt cod, or “bacalhau”, is the national ingredient of Portugal. They say that there are 365 traditional recipes they make with bacalhau- one for each day of the year! The omnipresent bacalhau is perhaps the most famous ingredient from the country. These codfish cakes or croquettes are made with the rehydrated cod mixed with parsley, potatoes and eggs. Some regions add spices like nutmeg. These deep fried fritters as a comfort food are deliciously addictive!
Cozido a Portuguesa: spicy comfort food
This boiled meat and vegetable dish is popular throughout the country with countless regional variations. It typically includes humble winter vegetables like cabbage, beans, turnips and carrot. Meat like chicken, port and beef as well as smoked sausages round out the dish. It also makes the most of using frequently discarded pieces of the animal (pork ear, blood sausage). One of the big distinctions between Spanish and Portuguese cuisines are the spices they use- Cozido is no exception. Spicy piri piri red pepper from Mozambique (one time a Portuguese colony), white pepper and cinnamon are used, harking back to a time when Portuguese exploration and the spice route brought these ingredients to the Portuguese table.
Caldo verde, Minho
The Portuguese make this hearty soup mostly of leafy greens (like kale or collard greens) and potatoes. You can also add onion, garlic, root vegetables and, of course, a hefty drizzle of good Portuguese olive oil to top it off. In addition, some recipes add chorizo or ham hock to richen the soup, both are perfect for a cool autumn day.
We hope these Portuguese comfort foods gave you some inspiration for recipes to recreate at home as the weather turns colder!