A couple weeks ago a friend posted a link on facebook, “24 Traditional Brazilian Foods You Need to Eat Now“. Most of it I’d never heard of, and pretty much none of it was vegan. But there was one familiar thing that can easily be made vegan – farofa. It brought back lots of memories, but when I looked it up on Amazon, it was kind of expensive. I put it out of my mind. I bought okra with my groceries intending to make a Greek dish last night, but then something happened…
As I’ve been doing lately, I was rummaging through the cupboard looking for anything interesting for a side dish. I pulled out a box of couscous and saw some kind of bag poking out behind where it’d been. There was a familiar brand name on the front, Tipity. It was a bag of farofa from my trip to Brazil!!!! Did I mention it’s been EIGHT years since that trip?? Luckily expiration dates don’t worry me one bit – plus I couldn’t find one anywhere on the bag. That must mean it never expires.
I did some googling and found a Brazilian okra recipe, and a recipe for beans and rice. Perfect.
I did 3/4 C rice (since that’s all I had left). Over medium high heat, let it cook for a couple minutes once it starts sizzling. Stir occasionally to keep the garlic from burning. Frying the rice before boiling is supposed to keep it from getting sticky.
Now add water – twice the amount of the rice, so for me it’s 1 1/2 C. Give it one stir, THEN STOP. Let the rice cook with the lid off until the water is absorbed & evaporated to the point you can see little holes opening up in the rice. Do NOT stir the rice before this point! But once it looks like most of the water is gone, you may move a little aside with a spoon to check. Once the water is almost completely cooked out, cover the pot and cook an additional 2 minutes on low. Then remove from heat, and don’t touch that rice until it’s time to serve it.
Add 2 cans of drained and rinsed beans (red, pinto, or black) to another pan of sauteing garlic, salt & pepper. Stir and cook over medium high heat a few minutes, then add 1/2 C water and let the beans cook until a sauce forms. I used kidney beans in place of red beans, and I had to mash a few with my spoon to get a good sauce.
For okra. I soaked mine in a water/vinegar solution for about half an hour before cooking to keep them from getting slimy. If you soak yours, you’ll need to dry them thoroughly before using. I heated 2 Tbsp of oil over medium high heat (again!), then added the okra whole. Season with salt and pepper.
Now, we should be adding roasted & salted cashews, but I only had pistachios. Good enough. I wasn’t sure how to tell when the okra was done, but once a couple popped open I figured they were ready. Remove to plate.
So, I went to Brazil with my best friend. Her boyfriend at the time was from Rio De Janeiro and staying with his family for the summer, and we got to visit for a week. His mom, who happened to be an out of work chef, was very worried about me not getting enough to eat (because no meat). She cooked two or three huge meals for us every day, served with fresh juice and beer – of course! – and each time made sure there were no less than 5 vegan items on the table. Farofa was usually one of them at dinner time. [Note: I gained 7 pounds in 7 days during this trip, all thanks to Maria]
I wanted to bring some home, and the BFF’s boyfriend helped me pick it out. But…when I asked how to prepare it, he told me you just eat it like it is right out of the bag. I guess he wasn’t a wonderful cook like his mother because NO. You don’t! Normally you’d chop a few pieces of bacon finely and fry it in oil.
I used the leftover oil from the okra, and added bacon salt (there are different flavors, make sure you pick the one that’s vegan if that’s important to you). I added 1/2 C farofa to the oil & bacon salt. It made a heart :) Yours doesn’t have to be heart shaped.
The texture of it is just like how it looks – sandy. You may not enjoy eating it by the spoonful, but…
but it was good on the okra, too. I’m still not sure how I feel about okra. Prepared this way it tasted like asparagus, but took a bit more chewing. The rice turned out really well, not mushy or sticky, nice and firm. I think this is my new favorite way to cook rice. The beans were great, too, and so simple. I’d like to start with dried beans and make a huge batch next time.
You can listen to this while you’re cooking.
Are there any foods that bring back vacation memories for you? What’s your favorite to make at home?