Rich Brazilian Vegan Stew


Shame on me…to my knowledge, before this vegan stew recipe, I had never eaten, much less cooked authentic Brazilian cuisine. I’d been missing out on an entire culture of complex flavors.

Brazilian Vegan Stew

Fortunately, my beloved cousin and hiking buddy has spent a lot of time in Brazil for work, bringing that spicy country onto my cuisine radar. So, on a recent Sunday morning, when I was flipping the TV channels around and trying to wake up, an episode of Sara Moulton’s “Weeknight Meals” caught my attention, as her featured guest was Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, a Brazlian chef and cookbook author. Their theme was “A Trip to Brazil.”

The food they prepared was hardly vegan, but a chicken and shrimp stew called, Xim Xim de Galinha caught my eye; it looked mouthwatering and seemed easy to veganize. It was! I think it was the ground cashews and peanuts plus the coconut milk that captured my fancy, as I am a sucker for any recipe featuring nuts and coconut milk. This one held particular appeal because it was different than the Thai and Indian dishes I love to prepare.

Here are the main things that I did differently from Moreinos Schwartz to make this a dairy-free and vegan stew.

  1. Substituted cauliflower florets for shrimp and thawed Morningstar Farms “Meal Starters” Chick’n Strips for Chicken (seasoned seitan or tempeh would be a fine substitute). HOWEVER, so that I didn’t have part of a head of cauliflower around, I basically reversed the amount of shrimp and chicken, using only 1/2 pound of faux chicken (that is how it is packaged) and a 3 to 4 pound head of cauliflower (which is an average size head).
  2. I didn’t pat the cauliflower dry as the recipe says to do with the chicken, so I ended up needing to cook it 8 minutes (instead of 6) in order for it to brown nicely.
  3. I used lightly salted instead of unsalted nuts (and still added salt).
  4. I don’t cook with tomato paste much, so instead of using fresh tomatoes, which aren’t in season, and the paste, I just used a can of organic fire roasted diced tomatoes in place of both, which was exactly the 1-1/2 cups called for.
  5. I substituted faux chicken stock for chicken stock.
  6. Because I couldn’t find dende oil here (and the shipping cost to mail order a bottle was exorbitant), which supposedly has a fabulously indescribable taste and orange color, I quadrupled the amount of turmeric and paprika (I used smoked paprika) specified in the recipe for a total of 1 teaspoon turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika.

This recipe for Brazilian vegan stew is a “main course” entry in the So Delicious Dairy Free 3-Course Recipe Contest, by Betsy DiJulio. For extreme richness, Betsy uses Culinary Coconut Milk from So Delicious.

For more details and to enter the recipe contest, see this post:

Special Diet Notes & Options: Brazilian Vegan Stew

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, vegan and vegetarian.

Rich Brazilian Vegan Stew with Cauliflower, Cashews and Coconut Milk Stew
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6 to 8 servings
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 3-4 pounds), trimmed and separated into florets
  • 8 ounce package Morningstar Farms “Meal Starters” Chick’n Strips, thawed, and cut into bite-size pieces (feel free to substitute seasoned seitan)
  • 2 tablespoons palm or dende oil (if you can find it; omit if not)
  • ½ cup lightly salted and roasted cashew halves and pieces
  • ½ cup lightly salted and roasted peanuts
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or peanut oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 whole scallions, sliced (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 14- to15-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 package So Delicious Dairy Free Original Culinary Coconut Milk (equivalent to 1 15.5-ounce can coconut milk)
  • 1-1/2 cups no-chicken stock (vegan chicken stock or vegetable stock)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric (if not using dende oil, use 1 teaspoon)
  • ⅛ teaspoon smoke paprika (if not using dende oil, use ½ teaspoon)
  • ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • 3 to 4 cups cooked rice or faro, optional
  1. Place the lime juice and garlic in a medium, non-reactive bowl. Add cauliflower florets, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Let marinate at room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Place the Chick'n Strips or seitan in another medium bowl, and toss with 2 tablespoons of the dende oil, if using. (If not, omit this step.) Let marinate, also at room temperature, while you continue with the recipe.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, process the cashews and peanuts with short pulses until they are very finely chopped, stopping before they release their oil and become a paste.
  4. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive or peanut oil in a large cast iron skillet, add cauliflower florets in one layer, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium-high heat or just a little higher, until they are lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Stir to loosen them from the bottom of the pan as necessary. Remove the florets to the bowl in which they were marinated.
  5. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive or peanut oil to the skillet and heat to sizzling. Add onion, scallions, and a pinch of salt, and saute, stirring occasionally and scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan, until the onions are soft and develop some color, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes, juice and all, and nuts, stirring to blend, and cook for about 1 minute to heat through. Transfer to a heavy lidded pot like a Dutch oven.
  7. Place the pan back on the heat, add the coconut milk, no-chicken or vegetable stock, turmeric, and paprika, and bring the sauce to a simmer.
  8. Reduce the heat to the lowest temperature possible, and add the cauliflower and Chick'n Strips or seitan. Cover the pot and barely simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with cilantro, and serve, if desired, with cooked rice or faro.

About Author

A vegan blogger, freelance writer, and food stylist, Betsy DiJulio is the author of The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes. For her love of cooking, Betsy has worked as a caterer, taught private cooking classes, and won national recipe competitions. As a writer, Betsy focuses on vegan and organic food, art, home and garden design, and green initiatives. Visit Betsy’s website, The Blooming Platter.