Over the last few weeks, I have shared some of the abundance that Portuguese cuisine has to offer. David asked me in one the comments how well Vegans were catered for in Portugal. It was time for me to do some research. On the face of it, Vegetarians can manage quite well as a lot of traditional Portuguese dishes incorporate eggs and cheese. There are even some places where Vegetarian cheese can be bought.
If you are a Vegan, however, it is a very different story.
I could only find ONE restaurant that advertises Vegan fare — this is the renowned Terra Restaurant in Lisbon — which is famous for its Vegetarian and Vegan food. Terra guarantees that everything in its “buffet” is Vegan; it also offers a couple of Vegan dishes alongside its predominantly Vegetarian menu. They very helpfully provide you with a translation chart to make sure that you can order what you want.
Most of the time, you are on your own if you are a Vegan in Portugal. However, a lot of their traditional dishes are just “finished” with a poached egg or slices of smoked sausage meat/chorizo. You could replicate the egg by using a suitable Vegan substitute like an egg replacer if you need binding, or just leave it out altogether, like most Vegans do. For the purposes of this post, I have omitted them as I do not know how they handle in cooking.
Soups are a good/easy place to start — firstly the national soup of Portugal Caldo Verde.
Recipe — In American measures
1/4 cup olive oil, 1 cup chopped onion, 2 teaspoons chopped garlic, 2 cups Idaho potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced, 2 quarts water, Salt and black pepper, 1 pound kale, washed, trimmed of the thick stems and thinly sliced.
In a medium soup pot, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil, add onions and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until they turn glassy, don’t let them get brown. Add potatoes and water. Cover and boil gently over medium heat for 20 minutes. When the potatoes are tender mash them with a potato masher right in the pot. Add the kale. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the remaining olive oil and season. Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty bread — or alternatively line the bowls with crusty bread and then add the soup.
4 cups chickpeas (2 cans or about 1 pound of dried if you are using them), 3 large garlic cloves, chopped 3 large yellow onions, peeled and coarsely chopped, 5 tablespoons olive oil, 2 potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped, 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced, 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced, 1 teaspoon dried marjoram, crumbled, 4 cups vegetable broth (preferably homemade and unsalted), 3/4 lb spinach (either frozen chopped or fresh baby spinach with stems removed and chopped), 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (add one and taste (you may like less than the whole two spoonsful), 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (or to taste), 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper (or to taste).
1 Stir fry the garlic and onions in 3 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy saucepan until translucent.
2 Add the potatoes and stir fry another 2 to 3 minutes.
3 Add the herbs and allow them to mellow over low heat for about 12 minutes.
4 Add the broth, raise the heat and bring the soup to a gentle simmer, add the chickpeas, cover and cook slowly for about one hour or until everything is soft.
5 If you like your soup to have texture, ladle out a cup or so of chick peas; if you prefer it mostly smooth, don’t.
6 Using an immersion blender puree the soup until it is as smooth as you like.
7 Add in the spinach, the reserved chickpeas (if you reserved them) and simmer twenty to thirty minutes–until the flavours are blended.
8 Now stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and serve, hot, with crusty bread.
2 heads fresh broccoli, chopped, 1 head fresh cauliflower, chopped, 1/2 cup chopped red pepper, 1/2 cup chopped green pepper, 1/2 red onion, chopped, 1/2 cup green olives, 1 cup tomatoes, chopped. Vegan bacon substitute can be added if desired instead of the bacon included in the original recipe.
Instructions — mix all ingredients and season with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
My favourites for home and grilling over the charcoals on the BBQ are vegetable kebabs — mushrooms, peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, zucchini and baby sweet tomatoes.
There are plentiful vegetable and fruit ingredients that can be mixed with herbs, spices, nuts and grains to make great dishes. I suspect there may be difficulties sourcing Vegan meat substitutes and protein sources to make Vegan living as easy as it is in the UK or USA.