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Portuguese Onion Medley (Cebolada)

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My father attended a Portuguese Catholic Elementary school when he was a boy after he and his family moved to Fall River, Massachusetts from St. Michael, Azores in Portugal.  He recalled for me that every day he and his siblings (he had 8) would return home for lunch and Cebolada was almost always on the menu.  My Vavó would serve it along with chouriço and a fresh Portuguese pop-sec (bread roll).

Although my mother’s family came from a totally opposite side St. Michael, she told me that her mother would make this quite often as well… She said that her favorite time of year to make Cebolada was in the summer when she had lots of fresh tomatoes coming out of the garden.  My mother said she remembers her mother either eating Cebolada as is or over a left over piece of fried fish.

Cebolada is a quintessential Portuguese staple.  All the flavors that you will find in almost any Portuguese dish is concentrated right here in this recipe.  Many, like my grandmother will eat Cebolada just as is and it’s a great vegetarian dish just so.  I personally love Cebolada over some velvety soft, boiled yams and make it each and every year as a side on my Thanksgiving table.  A cousin of mine says that her mother always pairs Cebolada with crabs.  But, more often than not, Cebolada is used to stretch food, either left overs or if only a little protein is had.  And of course I can’t be certain, but my guess is that this was the original intention of the dish.

I start off with 3 large onions.

Peel the onions leaving them whole.

Then slice up some fairly thick slices.

You will want to cover the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil.

Place your onions in the skillet over medium heat…

Add in a pinch of kosher salt.

Add in a pinch of kosher salt.

Slow cooking is key here, this is not something that can be rushed.

While the onions are cooking… prep your remaining ingredients…

I am using two fresh from the garden, ripe tomatoes.  Any type of tomato will do here.  Whatever you have on hand is fine.

I am using two fresh from the garden, ripe tomatoes. Any type of tomato will do here. Whatever you have on hand is fine.

Today I have decided to dice them up pretty largely. You can go smaller or you could slice in rounds, it’s totally up to you… In the winter when tomatoes aren’t fresh I use either a diced can tomato or a whole Roma tomato that i break up by hand… or sometimes I will just use a tomato sauce… so just do what you like best!

Three cloves of garlic… please use fresh here, it makes a difference as there are only 4 ingredients and two seasonings.

I dice/mince the garlic.

When the onions start to get soft, you know you are ready for the next step.

Add in your garlic.

I put in only about a half a tsp. of Portuguese Allspice.

Once you have given the garlic a minute to play with the onions, add in your tomatoes.

Then drop in two heaping Tbs. of wet ground red pepper.  You want to be careful here though, you really need to know your ingredients... I put in two Tbs. because I like the flavor and my pepper is not particularly spicy, if yours is be conscious of that... Also, be aware of the salt content.

Then drop in two heaping Tbs. of wet ground red pepper. You want to be careful here though, you really need to know your ingredients… I put in two Tbs. because I like the flavor and my pepper is not particularly spicy, if yours is be conscious of that… Also, be aware of the salt content.

Stir it right in and lower your heat to about a medium/low.

Keep at it, stirring every few minutes so that nothing sticks to the pan and the flavors will really start to meld.  Once everything starts to mush together a bit and the onions are starting to break down and melt, you are done... Check for salt and serve.

Keep at it, stirring every few minutes so that nothing sticks to the pan and the flavors will really start to meld. Once everything starts to mush together a bit and the onions are starting to break down and melt, you are done… Check for salt and serve.

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Recipe for Cebolada:

(serves 4-6)

3 large onions, sliced

2 medium tomatoes, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 heaping Tbs. mild wet ground red pepper

1/8 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp. Portuguese Allspice

1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste as needed

Directions:

Saute onions (add salt to onions) in olive oil over medium heat until softened and pliable.  Add in garlic, saute for another minute.  Add in Allspice and pepper.  Add in tomatoes. Turn down heat to medium/low.  Continue to saute, stirring every few minutes until onions appear to be breaking down and tomatoes are soft.  Taste for salt, add if needed.  Serve.

Enjoy!

My favorite way to eat:

As I mentioned, I love to serve mine over yams… not sweet potatoes, yams. I boil them in salted water, then toss them in the emptied skillet I just used to make the Cebolada and fry them in olive oil for about two minutes and serve.

Add on the Cebolada and Yum!!!

 

 

7 thoughts on “Portuguese Onion Medley (Cebolada)

    • Stacy says:

      You can find Portuguese Allspice by buying it at Portugalia Marketplace in Fall River, MA. Otherwise you can make it. I will be posting a recipe tutorial for it soon, but until then here it is: 6 Tbs. sweet paprika (not smoked or hot), 1 tsp. turmeric, 1 pinch garlic powder, 1 pinch Cayenne pepper… mix together and use… if you have an orange handy, take one peel from it and store it with the mixture for a few days in a bag in the fridge. If you don’t have an orange handy, it’s not that big a deal.

    • crpt says:

      Hi, Nice one! I’m a Portuguese living in Norway. I might had that almost forgot this Cebolada that my mother always did quite well. Just by chance found this webpage…abd well that’s dinner today. 😉
      BTW mine will follow with chicken legs cooked along with the onions, etc. Missing the all Portuguese spice, and the tomato, well some ketchup is covering up…
      As recall pieces of meat, chicken, fish, etc can be cooked with the onions after they get softer. It’s really nice.
      side note: Is I’m not mistaken the all Portuguese spice, is basically Paprika (colorau in Portuguese) and chili powder, well probably they had garlic and a few more things. But you get the idea. 😉
      Thanks
      Carlos

  1. Keith Williams says:

    I made this tonight. Man, that is some good eating! And I didn’t even have the Portuguese allspice. I don’t even want to think about how this is going to sing when I add that. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Stacy says:

      I’m glad you liked it! It’s one of my favorites!… Try my Baked Salt Cod Casserole, this recipe without the tomatoes is a main ingredient 🙂

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