From Ribatejo to the Açores and back in the Algarve - Grelos-growing your own grub

Pork tenderloin, turnip greens migas and black eyed beans

Grelos -so beautiful, why do I think weddings?

One of the joyous things about blogging is that there are bloggers out there whose blogs you faithfully follow but know very little about the author. It is with these people that you share an inexplicable je ne sais quoi,that something in common, a mutual bond shall we say. One of these particular bloggers, Elvira, I do not know, yet I love what she expresses on her blog and the always trusted recipes she shares with us. She lives on the island of Terceira in the Açores, but she was brought up on mainland Portugal,in the north of the Ribatejo.
Her recipes always have a homely rustic quality about them that I love.They are such a joy to recreate too with very straightforward instructions that always work. I have over the last three years made many of her recipes and never been disappointed.What I love even more is that it is more than just following a recipe ,it is at the same time giving me an insight and expanding my knowledge of another regions cuisine.
The province of Ribatejo is situated right in the middle of mainland Portugal.With no coastline or border with Spain,the region is crossed by the Tagus River.It is also home to one of the most beautiful breeds of horse in the world,the famous Lusitano
It borders with Estremadura in the west and south, Beira Litoral in the north, Beira Baixa in the north east, and Alentejo in the east and south.So it is easy to see how there're so many overlaps of culture in its gastronomy.
Ribatejo’s rich gastronomy includes traditional regional dishes such as Sopa da Pedra ( Stone Soup), stews, roasted or fried goat, broad beans with chouriço, eggs in tomato sauce.
The province has a great variety of produce, which is well known for its quality and quantity. This includes corn, grapes, wine, potatoes, carrots, turnips, onions, garlic, cabbage, turnip greens, rice, wheat, tomato, runner beans, broad beans, sugar beet, melon, figs, oranges, olives and olive oil, to name but a few.When I popped in to her blog for a recent peek the  recipe I found introduced me to one of these crops, Grelos (turnip greens) Grelos are the same vegetable as the Italians know as raab, cime di rapa, rapini, etc. Ideally they are harvested when the plants have shot up and formed a tight flower cluster that looks like a miniature broccoli head.Her pedigree recipe combines the grelos with migas another very typical dish of the Ribatejo.

In the past migas would have been served up as peasant food as a means of nourishment for those whose means could not afford meat. Nowadays the dish is making appearances in some of the smartest and refined restaurants across the country, even across the globe. People of all social classes have now adopted the dish and made it fashionable as something snazzy to accompany all kinds of meat and fish dishes.I personally really loved this extremely tasty rustic speciality.So much so,it has even made me go out and buy a packet of seeds so I can grow my own Grelos.I was not however lucky enough to have found a seed packet with a recipe attached to it like this one I found on the internet.I've never seen a serving suggestion on a seed packet before but here's grelos or turnip tops with chorizo. One for later maybe?

Pork tenderloin,turnip greens migas 

and black eyed beans (English translation)
This particular dish which Elvira posted is nothing special, just good homely Portuguese peasant fare.Each tenderloin very simply cooked in Massa de pimentao again a very traditional recipe from Elvira´s homeland.
Accompanied by a few stale old crumbs that are a compromise between the delicious food of the Ribatejo and the neighboring Alentejo. A dish that is good for the soul.

serves 4 people

700 g lean pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat 
1 table spoon Massa de pimentao or other hot chili paste 
200ml dry white wine 
 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1 bay leaf 
1 bunch chopped Grelos, turnip greens, raab, cime di rapa, spinach … 
350 g of day old rustic bread 
500 ml water 
250 ml of olive oil 
200g canned frade (black eyed beans), rinsed and drained 
handful of fresh coriander, chopped 
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Slice the pork tenderloin and place them in a deep dish. Add the chili paste white wine, half the chopped garlic cloves and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper.Cover with clear film and reserve in the refrigerator overnight.On the day of preparation, trim the greens, only saving the tips and more tender leaves.Discard the tough stalks. Pass under cold running water and drain. Cut the bread into small pieces and put it in a large bowl. Sprinkle with water and leave to soak.Drain and lightly dry the slices of meat with paper towel. Reserve the marinade. Heat 100 ml oil in a large skillet. Add the slices of meat and sear on both sides over medium heat.Add the marinade and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cover with a lid. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Adjust the seasoning at the end of cooking. Meanwhile, prepare the migas. Heat the remaining oil in a pan and sauté the remaining minced garlic for 1 minute.Add the greens and saute until wilted. Squeeze as much water as you can out of the bread- and add it to the greens mixing it well. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the beans and half the chopped coriander. Mix well and cook for 2 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.Serve piping hot tenderloin from the pan and sprinkled with the remaining coriander. With the aid of two tablespoons mould the migas into quenelles and serve around the tenderloin pieces.Spoon some hot pan sauces around the plates. Bom apetite!!

Lombinhos de porco com migas de grelos e feijão-frade
(Elvira´s original version)
Para 4-5 pessoas
700 g de lombinhos de porco, limpos de gorduras 
1 colher (sopa) bem cheia de massa de pimentão malagueta 
200 ml de vinho branco seco 6 dentes de alho, picados finamente 
1 folha de louro 
1 molho de grelos - ou de nabiças, espinafres… 
350 g de pão rústico de véspera 
500 ml de água 
250 ml de azeite 
200 g de feijão-frade de conserva, lavado e escorrido 
2 colheres (sopa) de coentros frescos, picados 
sal & pimenta preta moída no momento
Fatiar os lombinhos de porco e colocar-los num prato fundo. Juntar a massa de malagueta, o vinho branco, metade dos dentes de alho picados e a folha de louro. Temperar com sal e pimenta.Cobrir com filme transparente e reservar no frigorífico de um dia para o outro.No dia da preparação, arranjar os grelos, guardando unicamente as pontas e as folhas mais tenras. Passar sob água fria corrente e deixar escorrer.Cortar o pão em pedaços pequenos e colocar este numa tigela grande. Regar com a água e deixar embeber.Escorrer e secar ligeiramente as fatias de carne com papel absorvente. Reservar a marinada. Aquecer 100 ml de azeite numa frigideira ampla. Adicionar as fatias de carne e alourar de ambos os lados em lume médio.Juntar a marinada e levar a ferver. Baixar o lume e cobrir com uma tampa. Deixar cozinhar em lume brando durante 20 minutos. Rectificar os temperos no final da cozedura.Entretanto, preparar as migas. Aquecer o azeite restante num tacho e saltear os alhos picados restantes durante 1 minuto.Juntar os grelos e saltear até murcharem. Adicionar o pão - sem o escorrer - e envolver muito bem. Cozinhar durante 2 minutos, mexendo sempre.Juntar o feijão-frade e metade dos coentros picados. Misturar muito bem e cozinhar por mais 2 minutos. Temperar com sal e pimenta.Servir os lombinhos bem quentes, com o molho da frigideira e polvilhados com os coentros picados restantes. Acompanhar com as migas moldadas em forma de pastéis - com o auxílio de duas colheres de sopa.

For quick cooked greens, it is extremely important to select greens with young, tender leaves.   If you start with huge, mature turnip greens, collards, or the thicker varieties of kale, they will need to cook longer. Luckily  small bunches of young, tender green are now increasingly available in our local markets.


  1. Whoo hoo! I included a link to this fabulous recipe for a round-up I have just written for The Guardian. I hope you get lots of click-throughs :)


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