Three of My Favorite Meat-Free Brazilian Recipes

Hello readers!

For those who don’t know, I’m Brazilian! I love food and I’ve been a reducetarean for 10 years now, so I’ve been experimenting a bit with vegetarian and vegan versions of my favorite Brazilian dishes for a while. I thought it would be interesting to add some recipes to my blog, and with Veganuary getting people interested in new recipes, it seems like a nice timing.

Brazilian cuisine is influenced by several cultures, so some of the typical things we eat come from other countries and have been adapted, which is why some of the recipes I post might look familiar. For this post, I needed to take photos of the food and there was not much time between asking on Twitter if I should post this and actually posting it, so this is just the Brazilian vegetarian or vegan food I cooked between New Year’s and today – it’s a very low-key, relaxed post.

Please excuse my English, it is not my mother tongue and it always shows when I talk about cooking. I also don’t really measure things, so I approximated. If you guys like this post, I can do others with more typical Brazilian food (vegan feijoada, Brazilian strogonoff etc) and other recipes that aren’t necessarily from my country but that I love.

I marked (V) for vegan and (VEG) for vegetarian.

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Lentil stew with rice (V)

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This should be a rather generous amount of food, perhaps 4-5 people. Keep the leftovers in the fridge for 3-5 days, or freeze it for eating at a later date. It will probably taste even better the next time you eat it because the spices infuse the lentils with more flavor when left to rest. The recipe is also healthy and full of protein.

Estimated total time: 1h chopping and cooking + 2h min. of lentils in water = 3h.

Ingredients

1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
Salt & Black pepper
Cumin
3 laurel leaves
Cooking oil
250g green or brown lentils
2 cups of rice (I use either parboiled or whole grain)
Optional: smoked tofu, splash of lime juice

Method

Leave the lentils soaking up in water overnight, or at least for a couple hours before cooking. Also heat up some water (lot of it, at least 1,5 liters) before cooking to save time.

Chop the onion and garlic into small pieces. Separate a bit more than half of the chopped onion for the lentils, and the leftover onion plus the garlic for the rice.

Lentils:

Set the stove top to medium-high heat, and pour cooking oil into a medium-to-big pot, enough to cover the bottom. Once the oil is hot enough (wait 1 to 2 min), add the onion. Let the onions cook until they’re brown (2-3 min). Add an initial amount of salt, pepper and cumin – adding it in the beginning helps with adjusting later to your taste and makes the spicing more even.

Add the lentils to the pot and pour hot water into it, enough to cover the lentils plus half an inch (1 to 2 cm). Add the laurel, lower the cooking temperature to medium, and let it all cook with the lid on for about 15min.

By then, the lentils have started softening, so stir them and start mashing them a little with a wooden spoon – this will make the stew thick, instead of watery. Keep cooking, stirring and occasionally mashing until the consistency of the stew is to your liking. Taste the stew at least twice before it is finished, to adjust the spicing (salt, pepper, cumin). Add more water if necessary. The lentils should cook for a total of 30-45 minutes (including the 15min above), but it could take up to 1h depending on your stove and the consistency you like.

Tip: if you accidentally add way too much salt, you can add potatoes to the stew. Potatoes soak up salt like a sponge, and they taste amazing in the lentil stew.

Optional: This tastes even better with some smoked tofu tossed inside. The lovely smoky taste goes so well with the earthy taste of lentils. Just chop as much smoked tofu as you like into small cubes and lightly fry them before adding to the stew at any time during preparation. I also like to splash a bit of lime juice into the stew for added acidity.

Rice:

Set the temperature on the stovetop to medium-high and add cooking oil to a medium pot. Once the oil has heated up, add the remaining chopped onion. Once the onions start changing from transparent to golden but before they’re done, add the garlic as well. When the onions and the garlic are golden and very fragrant, add salt (a tablespoon, or to taste) and the rice. Lower the cooking temperature to medium.

Add hot water, enough to cover the rice plus half an inch (1-2 cm). Cover with the lid, and check from time to time, but do not stir anymore. Once the water is gone, add more, just enough to barely cover the rice. Once that water has evaporated, the rice should be done! How long it will take depends on the rice you use – whole grain can take up to 40min, whereas parboiled rice normally takes 15min.

Tip: Rice is really easy to burn. If you want to make sure it doesn’t, set an alarm for every 5min and go check on the rice. I personally never leave the kitchen when rice is cooking because I just know I’ll forget to check it otherwise.

Fried Polenta (VEG or V)

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(in the photo shown with a side of avocado dip, lettuce, broccoli and roasted pumpkin and carrots)

This recipe is better to do if you have time, because you should refrigerate the polenta for a couple hours before frying it. The amounts I put below served 2 people that day. Fried polenta can be eaten as a side (as in the photo), a snack or a starter, and goes well with a dipping sauce (avocado is the best). It’s also easy to veganize it by substituting the butter. You can make it healthier by using an air fryer.

Estimated total time: 1h chopping and cooking (incl. frying) + 3h cooling = 4h

Ingredients

250g of polenta
1/2 onion
Vegetable broth
Black pepper
Butter (or butter substitute, for ex. margarine)
Cooking oil

Method

Boil water before cooking to save time – at least 1 litter. Chop the onion into small pieces and separate it. Using a medium size pot on the stovetop at medium-high temperature, add 2 tablespoons of butter. Once the butter melts, add the onions and let them brown for a couple minutes. Add the polenta and stir for a few seconds in the butter and onion mix.

Add vegetable broth (or salt) and pepper to the mixture. I recommend a generous hand (2 tablespoons of each, approx.). If you are unsure how much to put, add a tablespoon of pepper and one of broth, and adjust later. Add hot water little by little. The polenta will soak it up immediately, at which point you start stirring it. Add more water and continue stirring. Once the polenta starts losing the powdery texture, add a tablespoon of butter and mix it in. Keep adding water until your polenta acquires a creamy texture. This normally takes me about 1 liter of water & 25 minutes cooking, but can vary depending on the brand you use. The polenta is now done, and could be eaten like this if you like! Taste one last time to make sure the spicing is to your liking.

Let the polenta coolfor an hour before putting it in the fridge to continue cooling for at least 2h. Ideally you would do this in the morning and fry it in the afternoon, or even the next day. After it’s cooled down and quite solid, cut the polenta into bite-sized pieces and fry them using a large pan. Set the temperature on the stove to high and add a generous amount of oil. Fry each side for about 5min or as long as you need to acquire a crunchy texture. Once they’re all fried, it is done! You can use an air fryer instead, or bake them in the oven at a grilling temperature (250°C). Serve hot.

Tip: Because this is a lot of time due to the cooling time, I normally double the recipe and do a warm polenta meal (I can write a recipe for that, too!) and the next day I fry up the leftover polenta.

Brigadeirão (VEG)

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This is a recipe I do at least once a year for my birthday, because it’s one of my favorite deserts in the world and it’s so easy to make! I haven’t attempted to veganize it and I can’t really see it working. It’s the unhealthiest food from this list, but it’s so delicious, creamy and chocolate-y.

Estimated total time = 1h cooking (max) + 4h cooling in the fridge = 5h

Ingredients

1 mug cocoa powder
4 eggs
1 can of coconut milk
2 cans of condensed milk*
1 tablespoon of margarine
Granulate chocolate

* In Germany, I found that condensed milk is different from the one in Brazil. Get the “Milkmaid” brand if you’re not sure which to get.

Method

Mix all the ingredients except the granulate chocolate into a mixer and process it until it’s an even, brown mix. Grease a cake form with margarine and sprinkle cocoa powder inside. Pour the mix into the cake form, and cook it in bain-marie for 35 min. Then check the texture with a fork. Normally it takes me 45-50 min of bain-marie until the texture is right; it should be not entirely firm – you want it rather fudgy. Let it cool and then put it in the fridge (I leave for at least 4h). Then remove the brigadeirão from the cake form onto a plate and sprinkle granulate chocolate all over it.

7 thoughts on “Three of My Favorite Meat-Free Brazilian Recipes

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