Last updated on 28-Apr-2020
This vegetarian dish has become a new favourite for us, and I’ve been making it once or twice a month. It’s an easy, delicious, one-pan meal that is gluten-free, only needs a few simple ingredients, and takes less than 30 minutes to make.
I saw Brás-Style Leeks for the first time as a vegetarian option for the “prato do dia” (dish of the day) at a restaurant in Lisbon, and decided to give it a try. They usually have meat and fish choices for the specials, so a plant-based option was a wild card, but I could not believe how yummy it was! Since then, I’ve seen it at other restaurants as well, and I love that more vegetarian alternatives are becoming available.
Out of the myriad of delicious recipes in Portugal’s repertoire, one of the most loved and commonly served in restaurants and homes (and a favourite of mine) is “Bacalhau a Brás“, translated as Brás-Style Cod or Cod with Eggs and Potatoes. What I have below is a delightful vegetarian version – Leeks with Eggs and Potatoes or Brás-Style Leeks – inspired by the one I tried at the restaurant. It’s very easy to make, and a lot more economical but just as satisfying as the fish version.
I’ve always liked leeks but Andre was not a huge fan (he’s come a long way with trying and enjoying different foods since we met), and when the white and green stalks made it into our kitchen, I was not very adventurous in the preparation. I have to confess I basically made quiche, frittata, or soup, and it was not even a vegetable that I bought often.
So I am very surprised about how much we are enjoying leeks now! We always seem to have it in the fridge these days, and buy again as soon as we cook it. A big reason is this “Brás-style” recipe, but I’ve also been adding it to my Dairy-Free Stroganoff recipe, which is included in our regular meal rotation.
Visits to Portugal (or to a Portuguese restaurant or celebration) usually involve plenty of food. Portuguese cuisine is comforting and multifaceted, with something for every taste, budget, and occasion.
Due to its privileged position in the Atlantic, extensive coastline, and well-developed fishing industry, it’s known for the fresh seafood probably as much as for the myriad of ways they prepare salted cod (bacalhau), the quintessential Portuguese ingredient. It’s been said that there are 365 salted cod dishes, one for each day of the year, but I suspect there may be even more!
Despite the love affair with the sea and its flavours, meat lovers and vegetarians will not be disappointed either. Portugal has tons of traditional recipe options (or possible ingredient substitutions) to satisfy all dietary preferences and lifestyles. It is surprising that the Portuguese managed to concentrate so much variety in a relatively small landmass, with each different region of the country offering distinct traditions and ingredient combinations.
Portuguese cuisine also has Mediterranean influences – demonstrated in their love of olive oil, the use of fresh vegetables, herbs, bread, and other humble ingredients. Other influences come from Portugal’s former colonies around the globe and the earlier times of spice trade, which are mainly manifested in the variety of spices used in both sweet and savoury preparations.
Personally, I love leeks for this dish. The way they become a bit “stringy” after cooking really compliments the other ingredients. But I also believe we can “Brás-ify” other ingredients (basically any shredded meat and/or different chopped vegetables) by cooking them with the eggs and potatoes to make a new dish with what we have on hand or maybe like more than leeks.
Ready to try this delicious and satisfying dish?
Leeks with Eggs and Potatoes ("Brás" Style)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion large, cut in half and then sliced thin
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 400 g leeks (about 1 lb) sliced, soaked in cold water and cleaned
- 1 zucchini (about 200g or ½ lb) medium, cut in quarters lengthwise and sliced
- 6 eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- 300 g fried potato sticks (about ¾ lb)
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup parsley fresh, chopped, for serving
- olives black or green, for serving
- Cut leeks lengthwise and then slice into half-moons (white and light green part only). Add to a bowl with cold water and move around to separate and clean. Let it rest so grit/dirt goes to the bottom. Prep onions, garlic, and zucchini.
- In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions with the bay leaf until softened. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Gather the leeks from the bowl without reaching the dirt on the bottom. Add the leeks and zucchini to the pan. Cook, stirring often until the vegetables are done. Season with salt & pepper.
- Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the milk until well combined, season and reserve.
- Add 1/3 of the potato sticks to the vegetables and mix gently to moisten.
- Add the egg mixture to the pan and let it cook slowly, folding it gently into the vegetables. Do not overcook it!
- Once the eggs have started to set but are still soft, turn off the heat, add most of the remaining potato sticks, and mix. These potatoes should remain a bit crispy. Reserve some potato sticks for serving.
- Remove the bay leaf. Serve topped with the extra potatoes, parsley, and a drizzle of olive oil. Decorate with olives. Goes well with a fresh salad - lettuce, tomatoes, grated carrots, onions, etc. - on the side.
- This recipe is a vegetarian version of the famous Portuguese dish Bacalhau a Brás (Cod with Potatoes and Eggs).
- For this recipe, I used leeks and zucchini, but I've also made it before with only leeks, and with a combination of leeks and mushrooms. Other combinations of favourite veggies (or what's on hand) may work as well, but I really recommend using the leeks, as I find that they mimic the texture of the original cod dish a bit.
- For the fried potato sticks, I quite like these, but any (store-bought or homemade) will work.