As we get closer to Valentine’s Day, many people are searching the net for romantic things they can do indoors. Well, what can be more romantic than cooking Portuguese meals? If you are anything like me and like to find any occasion to eat good food, I’ve got the treat for you. If you’re wondering why I’m even bothering to share meal ideas for Valentine’s Day if I personally don’t celebrate it, it’s simple. I may be a Valentine’s Grinch, but that doesn’t mean I won’t eat!
For those who don’t already know, I am not Portuguese, but from a Portuguese speaking country. Our food and culture are highly influenced by Portugal, so these are dishes I grew up eating quite frequently. Over Christmas, I shared a list of Portuguese desserts and everyone seemed to love it. If you missed that post, make sure to check it out because today, we’ll just focus on the main dish.
What are some staples in Portuguese meals?
Each person has their own preferences, but here is a list of staples in Portuguese cuisine:
Soups – mainly with potatoes or beans as a base
Seafood – particularly shellfish, sardines, codfish,
Sausages – luinguiça and chouriço
Pork – pig feet, preserved pork, sausages
Herbs & Spices – bay leaves, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic, chilies, olives
Portuguese meals for the fish lover:
Bacalhau com natas
If you like potatoes and anything creamy, then this should be top of your list. Bacalhau, or salted codfish, is a typical Portuguese delicacy that will be a staple in any household. Of course, no one actually eats it in its salty state, but it does add a layer of depth. The most common thing to have codfish with are potatoes, so keep an eye out for that as a theme. It does require some overnight prep if you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. Here’s the recipe.
Bacalhau à bras
This one is for those of you on a ‘slim’ diet who don’t quite want to add heavy cream to your meal. the Portuguese have made a tasty variation of bacalhau com natas dish. Since there is no cream, you get to taste the ingredients individually as well as together. I wouldn’t recommend making this dish without the olives even if you don’t like olives as it does give an added layer of depth. Usually, I just pick out the olives since I don’t like them. You can use this recipe.
Portuguese meals for the vegetarian:
For those of you in a colder climate or looking for a starter to add on to the menu, this will definitely be a hit. Personally, I love having soup on lazy days or as a light dinner but I do recall having it for dinner on warm days as well. When it comes to making something simple and tasty, this is definitely a go-to because it checks off both points. Of course, non-vegans would add some chouriço to the soup. But simply take it out for a vegan variation. Top it off with some olive oil and a glass of wine, and you have the perfect starter. Add some bread rolls, and you can call it a meal. Here’s the recipe.
Portuguese meals for the meat lover:
Cozido à Portuguesa
This is my favourite dish to make on my lazy days, because it is probably the simplest thing to do. As the name suggest, you basically just boil different ingredients and serve it with salt, olive oil and vinegar. I have often substituted the codfish for sausages or something equally flavourful so as to allow my palette the opportunity to experience different flavours. Try this recipe and substitute as you please.
Since we all know how to grill chicken, I will skip over the obvious peri-peri chicken and present you with something more colourful. This meal is definitely a win for anyone who doesn’t want to venture out too far. Even though it is simply steak with eggs served with rice, potatoes, and a salad, the flavours scream “Portuguese”. I’ve looked for the simplest recipe so that you don’t get overwhelmed with ingredients. My only piece of advice is not to skimp on the garlic and make sure you pound the meat before you marinate!
Have you tried any of these Portuguese meals? What are you serving on your Valentine’s dinner table?
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