This simple Cape Verdean feijoada recipe is made of stewed beans, pork and vegetables in a rich, flavorful broth. One pot is all you need – cooks in under 3 hours! Serve over white rice, or as part of a larger meal. (This recipe calls for dry beans that need to soak overnight).
When people hear feijoada, they usually think of Portugal or Brazil, but – hello! Feijoada is also eaten in Cape Verde and throughout Africa. I’m here to put Cape Verdean feijoada on the map!
One thing about Cape Verdeans, we love our beans! Growing up, I don’t remember calling this dish by its actual name, we just called it f’jon pedra. This shortened name is our pronunciation of the term feijão pedra, which is the primary ingredient in Cape Verdean feijoada.
Some argue that true Cape Verdean feijoada can only be made with feijão pedra (rock beans), but I’m not that rigid. I’ve seen Cape Verdean feijoada made with pinto beans, likely because pintos are easier to find in the US. This simple feijoada recipe calls for feijão pedra, but by all means, use pinto beans if that’s all you you have access to!
What is feijoada?
Feijoada is a famous dish made of stewed beans, cured meats (usually pork), vegetables and a flavorful broth. It’s eaten throughout the Portuguese-speaking diaspora, and the presentation and ingredients will vary from culture to culture.
Feijoada is not a one-size-fits-all dish! You can use whichever meats and vegetables you like. Cape Verdean feijoada closely resembles feijoada Portuguesa because of its light color, unlike Brazilian feijoada which is made with stewed black beans. Chouriço or linguiça are often used in feijoada, as well as some form of salted pork. It’s not uncommon to find versions of feijoada that use ribs, pigs feet, tripe or blood sausage.
My feijoada recipe is on the simpler side of things – it’s made with stewed rock beans, salt-pork, chouriço, carrots, cabbage, squash and a broth made from tomato and simple seasonings.
What is feijão pedra, and is there a substitute?
Feijão pedra are labeled and sold in the US as “rock beans”. They can be found easily in areas where there’s a heavy Cape Verdean population. Feijão pedra are round, light-tan in color, and have a seam along one side that sometimes comes off during cooking. They also have a distinct, almost smoky smell and taste, they soak up a lot of water and take a long time to cook.
If you can’t find feijão pedra in your area, you can use pinto beans. Pintos are commonly used as a substitute because they’re easier to find and have a more mild taste. With pinto beans, the broth will be a little thicker, but this is certainly not a bad thing!
Growing up, we ate a lot of dishes that resemble feijoada, just made with other beans. Baby lima beans are a favorite of my family’s as well as ervilha seca (pigeon peas). We don’t call any of these other dishes feijoada in my family, but the concept is pretty much the same – beans, pork and vegetables in a savory broth.
Can feijoada be made without pork or meat?
Yes feijoada can be made without pork or without meat at all. You’ll just have to play around with the seasonings to compensate for the flavor of the pork. Corned beef, and turkey chouriço or linguiça are pork alternatives. Just be careful because non-pork sausage sometimes still has pork casings.
For vegetarian or vegan feijoada, obviously don’t use meat or any animal-based stock or bouillon. Vegetable stock can be used in place of water which should help to inject some flavor.
What is feijoada served with?
Feijoada is normally eaten over white rice which really soaks up the flavors of the stewed beans. Feijoada is hearty enough to be eaten as a main dish, but Cape Verdean-style feijoada is usually served in addition to a main dish.
Feijoada is a great recipe to make for gatherings because it serves so many people and stays warm when served in a covered pot.
Tips for making feijoada:
- This feijoada recipe calls for dried beans! Give yourself at least a couple of hours to make this recipe, unless you have a pressure cooker. I doubt you’ll be able to find feijão pedra in a can! If you’re using pinto beans and are in a rush, you can use canned but you’ll have to shorten the cooking time significantly! In my opinion, dried beans have the best flavor!
- Soak your (dried) beans! Feijão pedra will take a very long time to cook otherwise. You’ll also be surprised by how much stewed beans expand when you soak them. They don’t look like much when they are dry, but they expand up to 2x their size when cooked.
- Pay attention to the order of steps and cook time! The ingredients are added in a certain order because they have varying cook-times. Follow the steps in the recipe to avoid overcooking the beans and vegetables.
- Taste the broth. Because everyone’s taste-buds are different, you’ll want to adjust the amount of seasoning to your liking. I usually start off with a little seasoning and build it up as I go. You should definitely taste the broth after the cured meats have cooked in the broth for some time, because they will release salt as they cook.
- Let rest before serving. This is such an important but overlooked step. Any time I make stewed beans, I always let them rest for 15-20 minutes (or longer) to let the broth thicken and the flavors settle. As long as the pot has a lid on it, you can let it rest up to a couple of hours without getting cold.
Cape Verdean Feijoada Ingredients:
- Beans: 2 cups of rock beans (feijao pedra) or pinto beans.
- Meat: 12-ounce package of salt pork and 1 pound of chouriço or linguiça.
- Seasonings: paprika, kosher salt, black pepper (refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for exact measurements).
- Broth ingredients: 1 small or medium-sized onion, 1 tablespoon of crushed garlic, 1 medium-sized tomato, 4 large bouillon cubes, 2 bay leaves.
- Vegetables: Half of a small cabbage, 2 large carrots, 1 pound acorn squash.
- Other ingredients: high-heat cooking oil (vegetable or canola) to get the salt-pork nice and crispy and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil to saute the onions.
How to make Cape Verdean feijoada:
Steps 1 and 2: Soak the beans and season the salt-pork, let rest overnight
Soaking the beans is important because it cleans them and softens them so they cook faster. Feijão pedra are tricky – they look much smaller when dry! It’s amazing how much they expand in size and volume as they soak!
As your beans are soaking, cut the salt-pork into cubes and place them in a separate bowl. Season the salt-pork with paprika and black pepper. You’ll need a large, sharp knife to cut through the fatty rind of the salt pork. Kitchen shears can be helpful for this step. Once you’ve seasoned the salt pork, cover the bowl in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. The beans can soak at room temperature – no need to refrigerate them.
Steps 3 and 4: Drain and rinse the beans and sear the salt-pork
Remove the salt pork from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes. Normally, you should pat meat dry with a paper towel before searing, but I skip this step for this recipe because I want the drippings to have plenty of flavor!
You can sear the cubed pork right in the stockpot that you plan to use for the feijoada, or you can use a cast-iron skillet for searing. Heat 2 tablespoons of high-heat cooking oil over a high flame and sear the salt-pork cubes on all sides. Make sure the oil is very hot before introducing the pork to the pan and sear the pork cubes until nice and crisp on all sides.
Step 5: Prepare the base
Transfer the salt pork to a plate or bowl and then heat the olive oil in the stock-pot and toss the onions over medium-heat. Add the tomatoes, a splash of water and bouillon cubes to the pan. Let the tomatoes cook down. Use a wooden spoon to break apart the tomatoes and bouillon cubes.
Return the salt-pork to the pot (make sure to also transfer any drippings) and toss the pork until it’s coated in the tomato and seasonings.
Steps 6 and 7: Add the beans and water, then let simmer
Add the rinsed/drained beans to the pot and toss them in the tomato and seasonings. Drop in the bay leaves and pour 3 quarts of water into the pot. Turn the flame up high and bring the pot to a rapid boil. A covered pot boils quicker but you’ll need to keep a close eye on the pot to make sure it doesn’t boil over!
Once the liquid boils, turn the flame down low, cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Step 8: Add the chouriço and continue to simmer
When you lift the lid to add the chouriço, you’ll notice that the liquid in the pan has reduced by about a third. Add the chouriço (or linguiça), stir the beans and cover the pot with the lid again. Let cook for another 30 minutes.
Step 9: Taste the broth and add the vegetables
By now, the chouriço should release some flavor into the broth. Uncover the pot and taste the broth (be careful not to burn your tongue). Add more salt and pepper if needed. Add the cabbage, carrots and squash – the liquid should just barely cover the vegetables. If you need to add a tiny bit more of water you can.
Once you add the vegetables, let the feijoada cook for another 30-40 minutes, or until all of the vegetables are tender.
Step 10: Let the feijoada rest
Uncover the pot, check the beans and vegetables to make sure they’re done, and taste the broth one last time. The stewed beans and vegetables should be soft, but not mushy. Once you’re satisfied with the texture and taste, give the beans a final stir, re-cover and let the feijoada rest for 15-30 minutes before serving.
Serving feijoada and storing leftovers
Serve the feijoada over white rice and make sure to spoon plenty of that delicious broth over the rice! My family serves feijoada with other dishes as part of a larger meal, but it can be eaten with rice on its own.
You’ll definitely have leftovers so make sure to store any leftover feijoada in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Want to try some other traditional Cape Verdean recipes?
- Cachupa: Traditional Dish of Cape Verde – Full Recipe
- Canja – Cape Verdean Chicken Soup Recipe
- Cape Verdean Pastel Recipe – Pastel de Atum
- Caldo de Peixe – Cape Verdean Fish Stew Recipe
- Traditional Cape Verdean Cuscuz (Cuscuz de milho)
Simple Feijoada Recipe - Cape Verdean Stewed Beans
- 2 cups rock beans feijao pedra or pinto beans
- 12 ounces salt pork cut into cubes
- 1 medium tomato cut into pieces
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 bouillon cubes large
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 lb. linguiça or chouriço
- ½ of a small cabbage
- 2 large carrots
- 1 lb. acorn squash peeled and cubed
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- Soak the beans overnight in a large bowl of water.
- Season the salt-pork cubes with paprika and black pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator overnight.
- Remove the salt pork from the refrigerator, and drain and rinse the beans.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the high-heat cooking oil to a large cast-iron skillet (you should see smoke rise from the pan, this indicates that the skillet is hot enough). Add the seasoned salt-pork and brown until crispy on all sides. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the salt-pork cubes to a plate or bowl. Set aside.
- In a large stainless-steel stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions to the pot and cook until they are translucent, then add the tomatoes, a splash of water and bouillon cubes. Let cook until the bouillon cubes and tomatoes are cooked down (you can use a wooden spoon to break apart the tomatoes and bouillon cubes).
- Add the salt pork and garlic to the pan and toss until everything is coated in the tomato base.
- Add the beans and bay leaves to the pot, then add 3 quarts of water. Bring the pot to a rapid boil, then cover the pot and let simmer over low heat for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- By now, the liquid should be reduced by about ⅓. Add the linguiça or chouriço to the pot, stir and re-cover. Taste the broth and add more salt and pepper to your liking. Let the feijoada continue to simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add the cabbage, carrots and squash and cook for another 30-40 minutes. If the liquid is evaporating too quickly, you can top off the pot with just enough water to cover the beans. It's ok if the vegetables peek out a little!
- After the cooking time in the previous step is up, uncover the pot and check the beans and vegetables to make sure they are fully cooked. They should be soft, but still in tact. Once you're satisfied with the texture, cut the flame, re-cover and let the feijoada rest for 15-20 minutes before serving.
- Make sure to season the salt-pork and soak the beans the night before
- Use a sharp knife and/or kitchen shears to cut through the rind of the salt pork
- High-heat cooking oil like vegetable or canola oil is recommended for searing the salt-pork
- Add salt gradually because salt is released as the meat cooks. You don't want to over-salt the dish!