We know most of our guests don’t choose our nature adventures for the food, although it’s generally excellent. On our Portugal kayaking adventure, however, the food is a hallmark! Guests overnight in luxurious manor houses and hospitable inns on vineyard estates (called quintas), joining host families for indulgent repasts of classic Portuguese food and wine. Our hosts at each quinta take great pride in filling us with hearty meals of homemade country fare and endlessly flowing local wines—in addition to its famous Port, the Douro Valley produces up-and-coming table wines, too. From fresh oranges, almonds, honey and olive oil to farm-raised lamb and pork and artisan cheeses, much of what we enjoy is raised right on or near the estates where we stay.
We’ve collected several treasured recipes from our quinta hosts so you can try these classic Portuguese dishes from the comfort of your own home. Time to get out the apron and take yourself on a culinary journey through Portugal’s Douro wine region!
Fava Beans with Chouriço
1 pounds chouriço sausage, sliced (Spanish chorizo is a good substitute if you can’t find Portuguese chouriço. Or any dry, spicy sausage will work.)
2 (19 oz) cans cooked fava beans
1/2 pound of prosciutto, chopped into small chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions (chopped)
3 garlic cloves (finely minced)
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper paste (If you can’t find red pepper paste, here’s an easy recipe to make your own.)
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
2 teaspoons parsley (finely minced for garnish)
- In a heavy sauce pan, saute the onion, chouriço and prosciutto in olive oil on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- Add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil.
- Simmer for 15 minutes and add the fava beans.
- Cook on low heat for another 30 minutes stirring the pan often. Cook longer if you like the beans softer.
- Serve with crusty bread for dipping.
Cod with Chickpeas
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 onions, chopped thinly
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
*1 lbs. salt cod, aka “Bacalhau”
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
*Salt cod is cod that has been dried and preserved with salt, and is quite popular in Portuguese and Spanish dishes. If you can’t find salt cod in your local grocery store, you can use fresh cod instead. Simply place the pieces of cod skin side down on a plate or dish which will catch liquids that are released from the cod when it is salted. Sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt and leave for one hour (no longer). Rinse all the salt off, then place in a large container with plenty of cold water for 30 to 45 minutes, changing the water every 15 minutes. Remove, pat dry and it is ready to cook. If you use this method, skip the 8-10 hours of soaking in the directions below.
- Wash and soak the cod in a bowl of water. Change the water 3 times over the course of 8-10 hours. (Skip this step if using fresh cod and salting it yourself.)
- In a saucepan, add the cod and water. Bring the water to a boil and after 1-2 minutes shut off the heat.
- Remove the water and tear the cod into small pieces. In a large bowl add the pieces of cod along with the rest of the ingredients. Toss the ingredients together well and serve.
2 cups milk
4 potatoes, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
*1 pound salt cod, aka “Bacalhau”
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup vegetable oil, for frying
2 limes or lemons sliced thinly
1/2 cup black olives for garnish
*Salt cod is cod that has been dried and preserved with salt, and is quite popular in Portuguese and Spanish dishes. If you can’t find salt cod in your local grocery store, you can use fresh cod instead. Simply place the pieces of cod skin side down on a plate or dish which will catch liquids that are released from the cod when it is salted. Sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt and leave for one hour (no longer). Rinse all the salt off, then place in a large container with plenty of cold water for 30 to 45 minutes, changing the water every 15 minutes. Remove, pat dry and it is ready to cook. If you use this method, skip the soaking step in the directions below.
- Soak the dried cod in cold water for a day, changing the water 3-4 times. (Skip this step if using fresh cod and salting it yourself.)
- Drain the cod, rinse, and put it in a large pot. Add the milk and enough water to cover an inch.
- Simmer gently over medium-low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cod is tender.
- Drain and rinse the cod well, removing any little bits of skin and bone.
- While the cod is cooking, pour 1-inch of water in a large pot. Add the potatoes and simmer on medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes until very tender.
- Drain the potatoes, peel off the skins, and mash them well with a potato masher.
- In a bowl, add the cod to the potatoes, along with the onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, and eggs.
- Beat the mixture firmly with a spoon until it is a smooth and even consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Shape the cod mixture into medium sized cylinder shaped pieces.
- Pour the oil in a deep heavy skillet or pot and place it on high heat. Add the pieces one by one, turning them over until they are golden brown.
- Once done remove the pieces and place them on a plate with paper towels to dry. Serve while hot with the sliced lemons for extra flavor.
Tomato Soup with Egg
2 cloves of garlic
2 and 1/4 pounds tomatoes
6 tablespoons of olive oil
4 and 1/4 cups water
1 pound day old bread
Salt (to taste)
- Start by peeling the onion and the garlic and then skin the tomatoes, not forgetting to remove the seeds as well.
- Chop the above ingredients into small pieces and place them in a pan, add the olive oil and bring to a boil until it thickens a bit.
- Add the water to the mixture, season with salt, and let it boil for a few more minutes, then poach the eggs in the soup.
- Slice the bread and place it in the serving bowls. Put the eggs on top of the bread and pour the soup over it.
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups of whole milk
1⅓ cups white sugar
⅓ cup water
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
1 lemon, peel only, cut into strips
1 sheet pre-rolled puff pastry
Ground cinnamon and powdered sugar for dusting on top
- Preheat your oven to 550°F (290°C), and lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
- In a saucepan, bring to a boil the sugar, water, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and cinnamon stick. Cook until a thermometer reads a temperature of 220°F (100°C). Resist the urge to stir!
- Separately, whisk the milk, flour, and salt together very Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for about 5 minutes or until well combined and the milk is thickened. Take off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
- Once cooled, whisk in the egg yolks. Then add the sugar syrup (first removing the cinnamon stick), and mix until everything is well-combined. Strain into a measuring cup.
- Meanwhile, cut the puff pastry sheet into two pieces and place them on top of each Tightly roll the sheets into a log, from the short side. Next, cut the log into 12 evenly sized pieces.
- Place one piece in each of the 12 wells of the muffin tin. Dipping your thumb in cold water first, press your thumb down into the center of the dough piece and press outwards to form a cup with the pastry. The pastry cup should have its top edge just above the top of the well of the muffin tin.
- Fill each pastry cup ¾ of the way to the top with custard.
- Put the tray in the oven and bake until the custard starts to caramelize and blister and the pastry goes golden brown (roughly 10-12 minutes).
- Serve warm, with powdered sugar and ground cinnamon (both optional, but delicious)!
Almond Tile with Ice Cream
5 ounces sliced almonds
3 and 1/2 tablespoons liquid honey
1/2 tablespoon ghee, unsalted butter, or coconut oil
Vanilla ice cream for serving
- Preheat oven to 325ºF, on the convection setting if available.
- Leave butter to soften at room temperature.
- Mix butter with honey. Add sliced almonds and mix again altogether.
- Drop a teaspoon and a half of the cookie batter on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on the oven, stop when they are brown.
- Remove from the sheet with a spatula. While the cookies are still warm, roll each one half- way around a cylindrical tube. You can use a rolling pin, a bottle, or any kind of cylinder.
- Allow them to completely cool.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Portuguese-style Crème Brûlée
4 and 1/4 cups milk
1 tablespoon wheat flour
8-12 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
Rind of 1 lemon
Sugar for burning
- Dissolve the flour in some cold milk and add to the remaining milk. Add the sugar.
- Place the egg yolks in a saucepan, gradually add the milk and the lemon rind. Heat over medium until the mixture thickens and the flour is cooked.
- Pour the cream into a deep plate and cool in the refrigerator.
- Once cold, sprinkle with sugar and burn with a chef’s torch or long lighter. Serve cold.