Stuffed squid – Algarve’s Middle Eastern inherited recipe

Stuffed squid – Algarve’s Middle Eastern inherited recipe

While in London last summer, I had the pleasure to meet Bethany Kehdy at her book launch – The Jewelled Kitchen. This Middle Eastern cookbook was my travel companion back home, and I found quite surprisingly that the traditional Portuguese cuisine still honours on it’s repertoire at least two Middle Eastern inherited recipes: The Tomato soup with poached eggs (an Alentejo typical soup) and the Stuffed squid (a typical dish from Algarve).

The Jewelled Kitchen cookbook
The Jewelled Kitchen – a collection of Lebanese, Moroccan & Persian Recipes by Bethany Kehdy

The Portuguese versions of these two dishes are much lighter on spices. Spices were gold back then and only available at noble houses or convents, therefore I believe that the recipes were adapted to what was available to peasants.

While the Portuguese tomato soup with poached eggs (shakshoukah for the North African) keeps it’s inherited recipe untouched, the stuffed squid (stated by Bethany as an “example of the Levant’s flair for stuffing”) changes slightly by taking all spices out. The Portuguese version doesn’t use red chilli, dill leaves neither the lebanese seven spices, instead use as the only aromatic herb parsley. As per the stuffing we prefer the rice while the Middle Eastern recipe uses bulgur wheat.

With this recipe in mind and after several weeks roaming to the farmer’s market fishmonger for fresh squids and with the right size, I finally made it.

Serves 4 people
16 small squids
1 dl of olive oil
1 big onion
250g of ripe tomato
Fresh ground black pepper
16 wooden cocktail sticks

For Stuffing
1 big onion
2 garlic cloves
1 dl of olive oil
150 g of chouriço (portuguese chourizo)
250 g of ripe tomato
1/2 cup of rice
1 bay leaf

Clean the Squids
1. Separate the tentacles from the bodies of the squids. Keep the tentacles.
2. Remove the guts from inside the bodies, and the coloured skin from outside.
3. Remove the two membranes from outside. Keep the membranes.
4. Rinse the squid under cold run water.
5. Rinse the tentacles and the membranes.
6. Chop the tentacles and membranes. Set them aside.

Squid tentacles and membranes
Set aside the squid tentacles and membranes for stuffing.

1. Peel and chop the onions.
2. Peel and chop the 1 garlic clove.
3. Peel and chop the tomatoes (keep the juices, do not drain the tomatoes)
4. Remove the skin and chop the chouriço.
5. Rinse the rice.
6. Chop the parsley.
7. Put a heavy saucepan on low heat, add the olive oil, the onion and the garlic clove, let it soft.
8. Add the tomatoes, and the bay leaf and let it cook, on a low heat.
9. Add the chopped tentacles, membranes and chouriço. Let it cook on a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Check the seasoning. Add fresh ground black pepper and salt if needed.
10. Add the rice, the parsley and stir for a few minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
11. Remove from the heat, let it cool before stuffing the squids.

Squid Stuffing
Preparing the squid stuffing
Uncooked stuffed squids
Uncooked stuffed squids

Assembling and cooking the squids
1. Stuff the squid with the mixture and secure using a wooden cocktail stick. Leave around 1/4 of the squid empty, otherwise while cooking the squid will crack.
2. Put a heavy saucepan on low heat, add the olive oil, the onion and the garlic clove, let it soft.
3. Add the tomatoes and let it cook, on a low heat, for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Add the stuffed squids, sprinkle with parsley and cover with a lid. Let them cook for about 1 hour on a very low heat. Shaking the saucepan occasionally.
5. Check seasoning. Add salt if needed.

Serve with boiled potatoes, chips or rice.

Bom Proveito! (Enjoy!)

Tomatada – a hot tomato soup with poached eggs

Tomatada – a hot tomato soup with poached eggs

After making two batches of tomato jam, some spicy chutney for fish, and even musaq’a (a middle east dish with aubergines, tomato and chickpeas). I think it’s time to enjoy Tomatada before the tomato season comes to an end.

You need sweet over ripe tomatoes to make this delicious hot tomato soup with poached eggs. No canned tomatoes, nor sugar, neither carrot is allowed. You really need to find the most fully developed tomatoes to enjoy the soup’s unique flavour.


Serves 5

1kg of ripe tomatoes
500 ml of water
2 onions
3 garlic cloves
5 eggs
1 bay leaf
4 tbsp of olive oil
Herb bouquet: Fresh oreganos, mint and parsley
Fresh ground black pepper
Alentejo’s Bread

1 chouriço (portuguese chourizo)
1 large red sweet pepper + 2 garlic cloves chopped

1. Peel and thin slice the onions.
2. Peel and chop the 3 garlic cloves.
3. Peel and chop the tomatoes (keep the juices, do not drain the tomatoes)
4. Remove the skin to the chouriço, and slice it.
5. Put a heavy saucepan on low heat, add the chouriço and let it fry on its own fat. As soon as the chouriço is crispy remove it from the pan and set aside. Keep the melted fat in the pan.
6. Add the olive oil, onions and garlic to the pan. Keep the low-heat and let them cook until soft.
7. Add the tomatoes, 250 ml of water, the herb bouquet, the bay leaf and season it with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to your taste. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes on a very low heat. Stir often.
The need to add the extra 250 ml of water will depend on how juicy the tomatoes are and if you like your soup more of a thick sauce or a watery soup. Keep adding it along the cooking process to reach the desired consistency.
8. Roast the bell pepper, remove skin and seeds. Cut the pepper into thin stripes. Place the pepper on a bowl add the 2 chopped garlic cloves. Season with olive oil and salt. Set aside.
9. As soon as the tomatoes are cooked. Check the seasoning.
If you like to keep the soup like a sauce, poach the eggs separately on water.
If you like your soup more watery, poach the eggs directly into the soup. Cover the pan and let them cook for around 4 minutes.
Serve immediately, with bread slices, olives, the chouriço and the roasted sweet peppers.

I have offered the roasted sweet red pepper as a side dish because one of my kids doesn’t really enjoy the flavour. But you can add the raw sweet pepper strips to the soup at the same time as the tomatoes and let it cook.
Other Portuguese sausages can be cooked together with the chouriço, for example morcela (a portuguese blood sausage) and farinheira (a smoked sausage which the main ingredients are: pork, garlic, flour, pepper, potatoes).

This recipe is from the Portuguese Cuisine of Alentejo’s region, south Portugal.

Bom proveito! (Enjoy it!)

Stewed Pig’s Heart

Stewed Pig’s Heart

On a recent visit to my local butcher my eyes just glowed when I saw a pig’s heart. My food memories brought me to my mother’s recipe, full of a beautiful and tasty sauce. Someone please hand me the bread?
I know that there is some parts of the animal that most people would not consider to eat, but if an animal is killed to become your meal, then you should honour it with a no waste “policy”. That was what I tried to explain to the children at lunch time, and after they tasted it they really enjoyed it.

Ingredients for 2 people:
1 Pig’s heart
1 large onion
1 large tomato
2 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
5 Tbsp of Olive Oil
5 Tbsp of water or white wine

1. Ask your butcher to remove all the fat and thin slice the heart. If you do it at home you need a very sharp knife.
2. Slice the Onion.
3. Chop the garlic cloves.
4. Peel and chop the tomato.
5. On a saucepan add the olive oil, half of the onion, half of the tomato, half the garlic.
6. Place the sliced heart.
7. On top of the heart add another layer of onion, tomato, garlic, and the bay leaves.
8. Season to your taste with salt and fresh ground pepper.
9. Add the water or white wine.
10. Cover the saucepan with the lid. And bring it to a low heat for about 40 minutes to 1 hour.
11. After 20 minutes check if any additional water is needed.
Serve the Stewed Pig’s Heart with rice, pasta or mashed potatoes.

Bom proveito! (Enjoy it!)

Runner beans side dish – Esparregado

Runner beans side dish – Esparregado

A couple of weeks ago a friend asked me what to do with runner beans, I personally like them in cold salads, in soup or in tempura after they are parboiled, but then it came to my mind another great recipe, a Portuguese one from the region of Beiras called “Esparregado de Feijão Verde”. It’s a side dish that goes in perfection with meat. It’s very easy to make and full of flavour. Even if you don’t like vinegar don’t take it out of the recipe, just use it to your taste, even if it is only a few drops, otherwise the recipe will end insipid.


Serves 4 people
1 Kg of runner beans
15 ml of olive oil
2 Tbsp of flour
1 garlic clove

1. Wash and chop the runner beans very thin.
2. Parboil the runner beans in water.
3. Place the olive oil in a pan and add the peeled garlic glove.
4. Add the runner beans. Stir.
5. Sprinkle with the flour. Combine the mixture.
6. Add salt and vinegar to your taste and combine the mixture always in medium heat, until the flour cooks.

Bom proveito! (Enjoy it!)