Brazilian-Inspired Black Bean Stew

Brazilian Black Bean Stew

Though inspired by Brazil’s famous national dish (feijoada), this stew doesn’t claim to be authentic, but is abundant with nourishing ingredients. I love the contrast of the black beans and sweet potatoes, both flavor-wise and visually. Serve with steamed fresh greens and a tropical fruit salad or orange slices, as shown here. Thanks to Nanette Blanchard for the lovely photo! See the comments by a Brazilian reader, below, on how this differs from the national dish.

Serves: 6 to 8

  • 1 cup tomato juice or tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups cooked black beans, or two 16-ounce cans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup diced ripe tomatoes, or 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 small fresh hot green chili, or more to taste,
    or dried hot red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, or more to taste, plus garnish
  • Salt to taste

Combine the tomato juice and 3 cups water in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the rice, then lower the heat and simmer gently, covered, until all the liquid is absorbed, about 35 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot or steep-sided stir-fry pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.

Stir the diced sweet potatoes into the pot along with 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, then simmer gently, covered, until the sweet potato dice are just tender but still firm, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the beans, bell pepper, tomatoes, and chili. Simmer gently for 15 minutes more, uncovered. Stir in the cilantro or parsley and season to taste with salt. Serve over the hot cooked rice and garnish each serving with additional fresh herb.

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4 comments on “Brazilian-Inspired Black Bean Stew

  1. Joice Biazoto

    Dear Nava, although that sounds really good, I think that calling this stew a vegan take on feijoada is a bit of a stretch. As a Brazilian, I can tell you that you would never find any of the ingredients in this stew in a Brazilian bean stew, other than beans, garlic, onions, and maybe some parsley and bay leaves. I guess you can call us bean stew purists ;-) (not counting the tons of yucky meat that goes into feijoada, of course). Because feijoada usually includes some smoky, stronger flavored sausage as well, I have always made vegan feijoada by sauteeing some chopped smoked tofu or veggie sausage together with the garlic and onions and adding it to the beans halfway through the cooking process (another tip: we would never ever use canned beans for this! only fresh beans – preferably cooked in a pressure cooker – can give you the incredibly rich and thick consistence of Brazilian bean stew).

    The beans are then served with rice (on the side, never cooked together with the beans!), finely sliced and cooked collard greens, orange slices, farofa (toasted manioc flour) and a tomato-onion-parsley vinaigrette. An optional pepper sauce can also be offered, but it is never mixed directly into the food, as many Brazilians (especially those from the South) are not at all used to spicy food and can’t take the heat.

    That being said, I do love the combination of black beans and sweet potatoes! And this does look very nutritious. Thanks for posting!

  2. Nava Post author

    Dear Joice, I take comments by readers very seriously, and I thank you for taking the time to describe a more authentic rendition of the stew. As you can see, I even changed the title to Brazilian-Inspired Black Bean stew, and direct readers to your comment in the headnote.

    We all have much to learn from cuisines from around the world–thanks again!

  3. Sandy Campbell

    Don’t care what ya call it, as long as you call me when it’s ready. Yummm

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