Gymnastics prodigies! Green-haired swimmers! Flag dancing! Odds are you’ve heard about a little event called the Olympics that’s happening in Brazil right now. What you may not be familiar with is Brazilian food, which celebrates tropical fruit, slow-cooked stews, and spicy sausages. (And we’re drooling.) So before you spend 45 minutes trying to figure out how to stream the next rugby match, make one of these seven Brazilian dishes—it’ll take less time with an infinitely better payoff.
For a breakfast worthy of an Olympian, you can’t do much better than an açaí bowl. Contrary to what the rest of the world may think, these cold smoothies aren’t a new trend, but a traditional Brazilian dish known as açaí na tigela, served with sliced fruit and granola. If you’re not already an açaí convert, pick up a few smoothie packs at the grocery store to see what all the fuss is about.
There are few things more satisfying than going to town on a big piece of cheese-stuffed bread while watching other people play sports. This isn’t your local pizza chain’s cheesy bread; pao de queijo is more like a puffy roll studded with salty Parmesan. Made with sour tapioca flour (though you could use regular tapioca flour), these little breads can be used as slider buns, a vessel for scooping up Brazilian vinaigrette, or eaten solo as snacks.
This one-pot dish known as galinhada is what you need to make when you get home 10 minutes before the next event is set to start. Pile chicken, corn, rice, and spices in a pan with one hand while you turn on the TV with the other. You could even eat it out of the skillet if you can’t possibly look away to grab dishes.
More similar to a fresh pico de gallo than roasted tomato salsa, this carioca version of Brazilian vinaigrette is a crunchy mixture of bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions. A bright topping for both meat and stewed beans (or even a big piece of toasted bread), munch on this salsa in between medal ceremonies.
Moqueca baiana, a traditional Brazilian stew, gets its powerful flavor from a broth seasoned with cumin, paprika, and cayenne, with cooling notes from coconut milk and tomatoes. Protein comes from the lime-kissed white fish, which is exactly what you need to keep up your strength while watching all those super-fit people work up a sweat.
Brazilian food is often perceived as meat-heavy, but the country really nails vegetables too. This salad is made with hearts of palm, a vegetable harvested from the inner core of certain palm trees. This salada de palmito is a blend of canned hearts of palm (available at most grocery stores), tomatoes, spring onions, and lime juice. You won’t find much green in this salad, but that’s OK, the Olympic pools have got that covered.
This take on feijoada, Brazil’s national dish, channels traditional flavors of the black bean stew with a simpler approach. Sauté bacon and onions, then place in a pressure cooker with dried beans, broth, and spices. For an even quicker version, use precooked beans and a bit less broth in a standard saucepan. Serve with rice and Linguiça, a smoke-cured sausage.