…a very responsible blog…catavino.net…[it's] refreshing to see such professionalism.
Robert M. Parker Jr.

Easy Breezy: Summer Salads Portuguese Style

Garden Portugal, SaladsAs the hottest months quickly approach, I begin to feel the spellbinding sluggishness of a sultry summer day creep up on me. I want nothing more than to lounge around on the weekend, with very little fuss or muss about anything—including cooking. For as much as I enjoy hanging around the kitchen, this time of year, I turn to quick and easy salads. However, any old salad with your standard store-bought dressing won’t do! I can give up my robust Portuguese roasts and hearty stews when the days get warmer, but I still want lots of flavor in my easy salads to stand up to a good glass of wine. Bet you do too. So, thought I would share three of my favorite salads, all inspired in traditional Portuguese dishes. Easy breezy!

Inspiration: Sardinhas

In Portugal, sardines reign supreme during the summer. They’re a staple at every street festival and a reason to throw a party at home. Ever been to a “sardinhada,” it’s a sardine party! With this flavorful fish in mind, I decided to create a sardine dressing. If anchovies can do it, why not sardines.

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 1 head of lettuce (whatever you like, I use Green Leaf)
  • 1 can of sardines in tomato sauce (I use Portuguese canned sardines, some of the best in the world, if not the best. You can substitute with sardines in olive oil and add fresh tomatoes instead)
  • ¼ of diced white onion
  • 3 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup of olive oil (I use the Portuguese brand “Esporao,” it’s terrific)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

Wash the lettuce and set aside in a large bowl. In a food processor (or blender), add the sardines, the onion, vinegar, parsley and black pepper. Mix it and add the olive oil in increments. Once it’s all blended, check to see if it’s the consistency you want. If it’s too thick, add a little more vinegar or even very little drops of water and mix again. Note: chances are when the dressing hits the damp lettuce, it’ll moisten up, so keep that in mind before adding too additional liquid. Cover your torn lettuce leaves with the dressing and enjoy! Tip: If you add less liquid to create a thicker dressing, you can serve it as a dip.

FruitInspiration: Salada Russa

One of my favorite “salads” growing up was the “Salada Russa.” Not quite a salad given the amounts of mayonnaise used in this dish; it’s a real treat when you’re NOT counting calories. As the name suggests, it’s not a Portuguese invention but rather a Russian creation by Lucien Olivier. However, many European countries have their own versions, and the one I grew up with had canned tuna fish in it. In the summer, I deconstructed the old “Salada Russa com Atum” and lightened it up with vinaigrette. Portuguese canned tuna is one of my vices—I could practically live on this stuff. But I digress …

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 1 cup of string beans
  • 1 can of tuna in olive oil or water (my favorite is “Bom Petisco”)
  • 4 Cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of light mayo (optional)
  • 3 teaspoons of white balsamic (or any vinegar)
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:
Traditionally, all of the veggies in this dish are boiled. Since it’s summer, I like to freshen things up a bit by steaming and even keeping the ingredients raw where it makes sense. In this dish, I steam the string beans until they’re fork tender (I don’t use potatoes as is traditionally called for, it’s a salad after all, the string beans are more than enough if light/easy is what you’re going for). Boil the egg. In the meantime, add the olive oil, mayo, vinegar to a large bowl. Whisk until the mixture thickens. Shred the raw carrot and set aside. Once the egg is boiled, and the string beans steamed, begin to assemble the salad. There’s no real rhyme or reason here, but I like to put my string beans at the bottom, followed by the sliced tomatoes, the tuna, the sliced egg and shredded carrot. I cover it all with the vinaigrette, add the pepper and mix it. Done!

Portuguese Vegetable SaladsInspiraton: Camarao a Guilho

If flavor is what you’re looking for, there’s hardly anything more flavorful than garlic, right. The Portuguese dish of “Camarao a Guilho” is loaded up with garlic, so why not create a tasty salad dressing that mirrors these long-lasting flavors (need a mint kinda long-lasting).

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 6 large shrimp
  • 1 bushel of Arugula
  • 2/3 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 4 Cherry tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons (or to taste) of “Piri-Piri”
  • 1 teaspoon of Paprika
  • 2 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • ¼ olive oil

Preparation:
Start by putting the whole tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt under the broiler (or wrapped in foil on a grill). In a food processor, add the garlic cloves, the “Piri-Piri,” the Paprika, the parsley and lemon juice. Mix it until it’s smooth and let sit. Meanwhile, add the shrimp to the broiler (or grill) until both sides are pinkish (about 8 minutes). Add the grilled tomatoes to the food processor as well as the olive oil in increments. Note: If the dressing is too acidic, add a sprinkle of sugar to taste. For a thicker dressing, you can also add a few drops of light cream. Once the consistency and taste is to your liking, drizzle it over the Arugula, which I like to use because of its peppery taste, it marries really well with the garlicky flavors. Then add your shrimp and you’re ready to go! 

Cheers to a relaxing summer.

Interested in a Gourmet Tour in Portugal? Make sure to contact us!!

Sonia Andresson-Nolasco

  • Ironbound

    Camarao “a guilho” is simply a portuguese mispelled form of the Spanish expression “al ajillo”… I write this note with the same sad impression I got in some of the Portuguese restaurants in Newark’s Ironbound, where some would write down most of the menu in Portuguese, ignoring that the shad they kept in English would simply translate to the Portuguese famous savel…

    • snolasco

      Hi There!

      Thanks for reading and for your comment. Though I would agree that spelling (among other things) could be improved on the menus of restaurants in the Ironbound-Newark, the name of the Portuguese shrimp dish “Camarao a Guilho” is not one of them. They’re not misspelling it, because the name isn’t meant to be a direct translation of “al Ajillo,” rather it’s a Portuguese adaptation of the name. If we were to correctly translate “Ajillo” it would be something like “Ajo” or “Alhinho,” which some restaurants do use. Whether right or wrong, over the years, it’s become
      commonplace in restaurants in Portugal to use “a Guilho.” The dish’s name is indeed influenced by the Spanish “al Ajillo” but commonly listed in
      Portuguese restaurants in Portugal as “a Guilho,” or sometimes “a la Guilho” or “al Ajillo” for emphasis on the Spanish ties. It depends on the restaurant. In Portuguese-American restaurants it’s usually listed as “a Guilho” or “a Alhinho.” Even though the original inspiration for this dish is said to have come from Spain, it is indeed a staple in Portuguese cooking. “a Guilho” is as common in Portugal as a “Francesinha,” another dish that’s said to have been influenced by another European country, specifically France’s Croque-Monsieur. In European countries, like Spain and Portugal, whose history is extremely interwoven, it’s only natural to see a fusing of cuisines/names show up on menus. However you decide to call it, “a Guilho” or “al Ajillo,” hope you enjoy the dish suggestion and have a wonderful summer!