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.
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.
- 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).
- 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.
- I used lightly salted instead of unsalted nuts (and still added salt).
- 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.
- I substituted faux chicken stock for chicken stock.
- 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: http://www.godairyfree.org/news/so-delicious-dairy-free-3-course-recipe-contest
Special Diet Notes & Options: Brazilian Vegan Stew
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, vegan and vegetarian.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with cilantro, and serve, if desired, with cooked rice or faro.