Bom Apetite with these Portuguese Recipes and Wine Pairings
Chef Natalia Paiva-Neves hosts a Portuguese feast (complete with six recipes and seven wine pairings) at a friend's home for picture-perfect summer entertaining.
Summer should be easy, relaxed and simple.
No fuss, no fanfare … just plenty of relaxing, long days meant to be savored and flavorful meals (with wine!) shared by family and friends without hours of preparation.
To help us achieve these easy-breezy goals, we asked chef Natalia Paiva-Neves of O Dinis restaurant in East Providence to create an easy entertaining menu featuring fresh seafood and Portuguese dishes perfectly suited for an outdoor gathering. She was more than up for the task: Food, after all, is her love language.
“I obsess over food,” says the Barrington resident, who came to the United States from the Azores when she was six years old. “I love food.”
Her creations are full of bright flavors, rounded out with fistfuls of chopped garlic, fresh cilantro, liberal drizzles of olive oil, lemon juice, paprika and salt and layered through with family stories, a hearty laugh and the care and passion of someone who loves to feed and nourish others.
Jackie Ignall (@wanderandlash) coordinated the styling, using her lush backyard patio as the setting, with table linens and accessories provided by Wayland Square’s Wendy Brown Home (190 Wayland Ave., Providence, 455-2337, wendybrownhome.com) and a floral centerpiece by Semia Dunne of SEMIA Studio (semiafloral.com). Joining the meal are two local food lovers, Kayla Mandeville (@k__elizabeth) and Sharmin Attaran (@hangrygirl_ri). Find more of Paiva-Neves’ recipes at nataliapaivaneves.com.
Delicate farmer’s cheese (queijo fresco) needs little preparation: “You make it one night and eat it the next day,” says Paiva-Neves. She tops it with a heady mixture of diced onions, garlic, olive oil and paprika and smears it on rustic pão da avó (literally “grandma’s bread”).
For a simple date, Paiva-Neves and her husband head to Barrington Beach with a tin of sardine pate and a baguette in tow. “It doesn’t look cute,” she says, “but it’s delicious.”
1. Garlic Shrimp
Recipe serves 6.
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter, divided
2 lbs shrimp, cleaned and
deveined, tails still on
1 tsp sea salt
1 head garlic, peeled and chopped (Tip: Paiva-Neves always buys purple garlic, which she says is more pungent.)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Half a lemon, sliced
3 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
In a frying pan, add olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter on high heat. Add shrimp, making sure to place in one layer along the bottom of the pan and add salt. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, then toss to make sure all the shrimp are coated. Cook for five minutes, then lower the flame to a simmer. Add the last of the butter, the lemon slices and fresh chopped parsley and toss it all together. When finished, pour onto a serving platter.
Note: This is a quick-cooking dish, so make sure everything is ready to go beforehand.
2. Simple Portuguese-Style Salad Dressing
Juice from 1 lemon
½ tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
Pour all ingredients into a Mason jar and shake.
3. Tomato Rice
Arroz de Tomate
Recipe serves 4.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp fresh chopped parsley, stems and leaves
3 tomatoes, diced
1 tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
½ tsp crushed red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup rice
2 cups water
3 tbsp freshly chopped cilantro, stems and leaves
In a medium-sized pan, bring the onions and olive oil to a simmer for about 4 minutes, until onions turn translucent. Add garlic, parsley, tomatoes, both paprikas, salt, crushed red pepper and bay leaf. Saute for about 5 minutes to bring all the flavors together, then add in the rice and stir, making sure every grain has been tossed and covered. Add water and simmer until rice is cooked, making sure to avoid overcooking. When ready, remove the bay leaf and add cilantro just before serving.
Paiva-Neves uses a traditional copper cataplana to cook littlenecks, a Portuguese dish that needs no salt thanks to the bivalves’ briny nature. It can be used on the stovetop or a grill. The best part? Once you’re done eating, you just pop the shells in the vessel’s empty half.
4. Littlenecks with White Wine and Garlic
Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato
Recipe serves 4.
3 tbsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves, chopped
24 littlenecks, cleaned and scrubbed
½ tsp red pepper flakes
Half a bunch of cilantro, stems and leaves
1 glass dry white wine
In a pot with a tight-fitting lid, add olive oil and garlic and saute on medium heat until just slightly softened but not browned.
Add littlenecks, red pepper flakes, fresh cilantro and white wine, then seal the pot. Turn on high heat and let come to a simmer for about 6 minutes until all clams are open.
Steam explodes as Paiva-Neves cracks open the cataplana like a giant clamshell. She digs into the littlenecks, raising a spoonful of the redolent broth to her lips and pausing for just a moment. “Is that not freakin’ gorgeous?” she says. “So good — and no salt.”
5. Portuguese Chicken
Recipe serves 6
One whole spatchcocked chicken (split in two)
4 tbsp of chef Natalia’s special Eat Me Sauce (see recipe #6 below)
Rub sauce all over the chicken, sprinkle with salt, then grill over medium heat for about 30 minutes until cooked.
Paiva-Neves’ dream is to bottle and sell her own sauce, which she’s been making for a “million” years and used on the Portuguese Chicken dish. She even has a name for it: Eat Me Sauce. The meaning behind the name? “It literally screams ‘Eat me!’” she says.
6. Natalia’s Eat Me Sauce
“It’s just something I created before my kids were born that I could keep in the fridge to throw on chicken or steaks in a hurry.”
1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
½ tsp red pepper flakes
Juice from half a lemon
1 cup of olive oil
Throw all ingredients in a food processor and keep it in a jar in the fridge with a bay leaf. Use it to marinade any meat or veggies for the grill.
Wine and Dine
Brands of Portugal selects bottles of Portuguese wine to pair with a summertime Portuguese feast.
wine sales certainly didn’t plummet during the pandemic. That’s one reason married couple Chris and Nelly Saraiva decided to get into the business in early 2021. After working together in the events and wedding industry in Rhode Island, they launched Brands of Portugal, located at the Phillipsdale Landing in Rumford, to help introduce locals to Portuguese wines. The import and wholesale company works directly with area restaurants and retailers to promote, carry and serve uncommon Portuguese wine brands.
“We love our heritage and certainly that played a major role in this new business,” Nelly says. “We also knew that Portuguese wine hasn’t come close to reaching its potential. It only makes up two percent of the wines in the United States market. Portugal is reaching new levels in the tourism industry and we thought now is the time to ‘make some noise.’”
Both Chris and Nelly were born to Portuguese immigrants, and Chris’ father and grandfather started a wine importing business in Massachusetts. Chris, a former real estate agent and deejay, also grew up working in his family’s variety store starting at age ten, while Nelly has a background in accounting and wedding photography. When COVID-19 set in, they decided to start a new business.
“We researched producers and families to come up with a core list of brands we wanted to represent in all regions of Portugal,” Nelly says. “Our first trip to Portugal to meet producers was in September 2021, which solidified our decision. Our first container arrived the same month and we have had several more after that, topping off our representation of all the regions.”
Brands of Portugal now distributes more than 170 varieties of wine and spirits, including many from small boutique producers with limited quantities that have never been imported into the United States. “We want to show consumers, retailers and restaurateurs in Rhode Island the quality-to-value ratio that is available with wines from Portugal,” Nelly says. —Jamie Coelho
Wines from Brands of Portugal
Here’s a list of their summer Portuguese wine picks, available at local restaurants and retailers. brandsofportugal.com
Terras De Lava Rosé by Cooperativa Ilha do Pico
NOTES: Raspberry and fresh strawberries
FOOD PAIRING: Good as an aperitif or with salads, fish and shellfish.
The largest and oldest wine producer in the Azores continues to respect and preserve the way their ancestors made wine on volcanic soil. The Pico Island Wine Cooperative was founded in 1949 in an effort to recover the noble grape varieties and the culture of the vineyard surrounded by a stone corral, which is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
1808 Portugal Colheita Tinto by Casca Wines
REGION: Beira interior
NOTES: Raspberry, licorice and black cherry.
FOOD PAIRING: Poultry, beef, lamb, game
and soft cheeses.
Founder and winemaker Helder Cunha has received national recognition and was recently part of a National Geographic Travel episode in Portugal with Gordon Ramsay. Cunha is on a personal pursuit to create wines that best express each terroir and grape varietal in Portugal in all the demarcated wine regions. This particular wine is organic and vegan.
Espera Palheto by Rodrigo Martins
NOTES: Cherry, pear, floral and spicy.
FOOD PAIRING: Pasta, poultry, beef or veal.
Espera translates to “wait” in English, and it’s a word that reflects Rodrigo Martins’ winemaking philosophy. He doesn’t rush the process while working with organically farmed vineyards in the Alcobaça region just north of Lisbon. This region is famous for its large population of Cistercian monks who have been making wine for generations, which influences Martins’ winemaking.
Superior Branco by Quinta de Curvos
REGION: Vinho Verde
NOTES: Floral, citrus, tropical fruit.
FOOD PAIRING: Fish dishes, seafood, Italian and Asian food, salads and white meats.
This family-owned winery spans four centuries. The vineyard, complete with a manor house, caves, lake, gardens and vineyards, minimizes the impact of growing vines by promoting carbon dioxide retention through its trees and lush vegetation.
Titular Colheita Branco by Caminhos Cruzados
NOTES: Citrus; fresh and fruity aroma.
FOOD PAIRING: Pairs well with tapas, shellfish, lean fish and cured meats.
The winery was founded by a father and his two daughters who both left successful careers to embark in the world of wine. They took on an old family vineyard (Quinta da Teixuga) and its wine-making traditions to create a new winery called Caminhos Cruzados (“crossroads”). It represents the intersection of their two paths as women on the forefront of winemaking.
Herdade do Sobroso Tinto
NOTES: Intense and concentrated color with flavors
of fruit and chocolate.
FOOD PAIRING: Poultry, pasta, beef, veal.
Herdade do Sobroso is a family project in the Alentejo, with almost 4,000 acres of land and a winery that focuses on respect for nature and environmental sustainability. It merges its wine production with the beauty of the area by operating a boutique hotel and leisure center. Run by a husband-and-wife team, Sofia Machado and Filipe Teixeira Pinto, the winery Herdade do Sobroso is bordered by the Mendro mountain range to the north, the River Guadiana to the east and a vast plain to the south, which accounts for the terroir in their wines.
Defio Baga Clarete Nat’Cool
NOTES: Strawberry, red currant and spices. Serve slightly chilled.
FOOD PAIRING: Tapas, seafood, grilled proteins and vegetable dishes.
The creators of Defio, Ana Sofia de Oliveira and Sara Rodrigues Matos, were acquaintances through the wine industry and then embarked on a journey to bring new wines to the market. Defio means “challenge” and represents the steep learning curve of achieving their mutual dream. Their first wine is the Baga Clarete in a can.
“It’s very traditional to eat fruit after a meal,” Paiva-Neves says. “Of course, we pour port over it.” Pineapple is said to have enzymes that help digest food, making it a perfect ending to a tasty seafood feast.
Where to Buy
We’re lucky to live so close to several authentic Portuguese bakeries and marketplaces. Head to these shops if you’re searching for papo secos (crusty Portuguese rolls), pastéis de nata (custard tarts), spicy chorizo, tinned fish, traditional terra cotta cookware or other ingredients to complete your repast.
Silver Star Bakery, 150 Ives St., Providence, 421-8013, silverstarbakery.com
Morningstar Bakery, 1106 South Broadway, East Providence, 473-0719, morningstarbakery.com
Taunton Avenue Bakery,
217 Taunton Ave., East Providence, 434-3450, tauntonavebakery.com
489 Bedford St., Fall River, Massachusetts, 508-679-9307, portugaliamarketplace.com
Central Meat Market,
113 Gano St., Providence, 751-6935, centralmeatmarket.com