As attention travels to the 2016 Olympics, take your taste buds to Rio – and broaden your culinary knowledge of its great nation! The many cuisines of Brazil reflect the rich diversity of its regions and the global connections that have created delicious foods that are distinctly Brazilian.
Occupying nearly half the South American continent, Brazil produces an abundant and varied supply of food, coming from its tropical rain forests, abundant Amazon basin, temperate highlands and coastal regions. Flavor combinations and regional dishes have been inspired by the many food traditions of the Portuguese, West Africans, and native peoples, along with immigrants from other parts of Europe and from Asia. And foods such as okra and cassava from West Africa were combined with foods that originated in the Americas such a beans, tomatoes and many tropical fruits.
“Feijoada,” a stew of black beans, meats and seasonings, often served with collard greens and orange slices … “caruru,” the traditional seafood stew from Bahia, often made with okra, cashews and coconut … “pão de queijo,” tiny cheese breads to pair with “chafe” (weak tea-like coffee) … “farofa,” or fried manioc flour, as a topping on savory dishes …”panqueca,” a pancake stuffed with meat, cheese and sauces … smoothies with tropical fruit such as acai and starfruit from the Amazon River …
… while these foods are famously Brazilian, some Dreamfields recipes also feature similar flavor combinations – making them tasty dishes to enjoy as you cheer for today’s great world athletes:
- “Charrasco” meals barbecue, most often done in Brazil by grilling. To make Brazilian Pasta Salad, first grill marinated sirloin steak, then slice it. To make this savory salad, combine Dreamfields Elbows with pineapple, bell peppers, black beans, onion, tomato and cilantro, sliced steak and remaining marinade.
- Stews like Brazil’s national dish, feijoada, are popular fare – often made with black beans (a staple food), avocado and pork. Salsa Verde Pork & Pasta Stew brings some of these ingredients together with Dreamfields Rotini and the savory flavors of homemade or jarred salsa verde and a squeeze of lime.
- “Moqueca” refers to seafood stew. Fish, an outstanding part of Brazilian cuisine, often features bacalhao (dried salt cod) and dried shrimp. Seafood Stew with Rotini honors these ingredients with a savory, tomato-based pasta stew. Serve it with a tropical fruit salad made with Brazilian favorites such as guava, mango, papaya, passion fruit, or starfruit, tossed with shredded coconut.
- Brazilians kick it up the flavor with chiles in hot sauces, often made with the fiery malagueta pepper. And calabresa (smoked or not) and chourico are popular sausages. Reminiscent of these flavors, Fire Roasted Poblano Rotini with Sweet Sausage gets its kick from chili peppers, too, and from cilantro, a favored herb in many Brazilian dishes.
“Go for the Gold” this summer at your family table!
Roberta L. Duyff, MS, RDN, CFCS is author of the American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, with more on great ways to eat for your good health.