Thick, luscious, comforting, and almost too good to share, this vegan Moqueca recipe was inspired by a Brazilian seafood stew. Our compassionate version uses fried plantains, tofu, hearts of palm, and diced potatoes to create a gorgeous and uniquely flavorful dish. Since this was originally a seafood stew, we used wakame, a sea vegetable, to create a mild broth that lends a subtle taste of the sea. Although the ingredient list may look lengthy and a little unfamiliar, this silky, tangy stew comes together fairly easily, and the result is more than worth the effort. We created this recipe for a multicultural wedding hosted at the Sanctuary. Guests came together from different countries, speaking different languages, to celebrate a joyous event. Like that wedding, our Moqueca is proof that the language of love is universal. This stew can be served over rice that’s been made in advance. Farofa, the crunchy topping, is an essential condiment to many Brazilian dishes. It’s made from manioc meal, the ground root of cassava, and can be found online or in ethnic markets. Panko breadcrumbs are a perfect substitute.

Moqueca (Brazilian Stew) [Vegan]

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Serves

6-8

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Ingredients

For the Stew:

  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dried wakame or other sea vegetable (like kombu, hijiki, or arame)
  • 5 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • 1 large ripe plantain, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or cornstarch for gluten-free version)
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped, about ½ cup
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped into ¼-inch pieces, about 1 cup
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced, about 2 teaspoons
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped into ¼-inch pieces, about 2 cups
  • 1 cup thickly sliced hearts of palm
  • 4 ounces firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 large potato, peeled, and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Chopped cilantro or parsley, for garnish
  • 4–6 cups cooked rice for serving, optional

Topping (Farofa)

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced, about 1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 cup manioc meal or breadcrumbs (regular or gluten-free)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
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Preparation

For the Stew:

  1. In a small pot, simmer vegetable broth with wakame for about 10 minutes. Pour the broth into a bowl through a mesh strainer to remove the sea vegetables, if desired, or leave some in for extra taste, texture, and nutrition.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, lay plantain slices in a single layer in the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until nicely browned. Plantains should be fork-tender when done. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Set aside the pan.
  3. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add flour and cook for about 2 minutes, while stirring, until it darkens slightly. Add onions, peppers, garlic, paprika, salt, coriander, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cover and cook until onions and peppers have softened slightly, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, hearts of palm, tofu, potatoes, vegetable broth, and coconut milk. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until all the vegetables have softened and potatoes can be pierced with a fork. Stir in lime juice and plantains.

For the Farofa

  1. Use the pan from the plantains. Heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, manioc meal or breadcrumbs, and salt. Cook, while stirring, for about 5 minutes until light golden brown and fragrant. Be careful not to burn as it goes from golden to dark brown quickly. Empty into a small bowl and serve with the moqueca, as a garnish.
  2. Serve in bowls garnished with farofa and cilantro.
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