When we are eastwards from our usual haunts around the South West Algarve, we always like to go to Bio Sabor, an organic produce shop that sits beside the N125 just east of Lagos.
For anyone, let alone us fruit and veg loving vegans, it's surely like being a kid in a sweet shop. Once you walk through the front yard, past the plethora of both practical and exotic looking plants (which are also for sale), and have stopped to stroke and then step over the chocolate Labrador that seems to be relatively in charge, you enter the main shop to a multicoloured palette. Here are the main stars of this shop; the fruit and veg.
It would be very easy to get overexcited in Bio Sabor, such is the variety and quality on offer. Maybe that is just a vegan thing but faced sometimes with the limp, limited and mass produced offerings in UK supermarket aisles, it really is inspiring. It is one of the many reasons we get a weekly veg box instead, but actually being able to go somewhere and choose exactly what you want, in the quantities you want is even better. To give you an idea of what we are talking about, last time there were at least 12 different varieties of potatoes, and believe us, Portuguese potatoes are tasty as. Phil had trouble which to choose for our Christmas dinner. He chose well, but then again, it would have been hard for him to have got it wrong! Then there were at least 5 different varieties of sweet potatoes too, and it was these that gave me an idea for the next Portuguese inspired feast I wanted to cook up whilst over here.
For this feast I wanted to rely on being inspired fully by the produce rather than cooking from existing recipes. I also wanted to cook something in the oven, as when we are in Miles our camper van, we have to rely purely on stove top cooking. Lastly, I didn't want to over complicate it or make it a time consuming mission (we are on holiday after all). A mashed sweet potato topped pie kept popping into my head so I went with that, and decided on a creamy filling underneath. Massive beautiful brown mushrooms sliced thickly, and a matching sized leek, would join the filling, with the only other addition being some thickly sliced seitan, which you can get in either the ambient or the chilled section of most supermarkets over here. I did look for a packet of vegan shiitake mushroom cream sauce we had seen over here before but couldn't find it so used a packet of coconut milk sauce instead. This quick, easy and basic recipe is below.
The pie, although promising to be tasty, was a bit monochrome in colour so I wanted to add a splash of colour to the plate. Sweet shop open in front of me I starting choosing vegetables with the intention of making a very simple side dish that let the veg speak for itself. Bio Sabor also sells a selection of other organic produce, local specialities, olive oil, wines and so much more. I found Phil hovering over the nut section (like he does especially since the election results!). We've had some dishes recently that included nuts in them and so, with the almonds looking particularly good, I decided to include them in the veg dish too.
With a fine bottle of Portuguese vegan organic wine finding its way into our basket, a bunch of perky asparagus to also serve on the side, some lovely oranges and various other delights for the next few days, we thought it was best to check out and leave. If you do find yourself 'in this neck of the Algarvian woods' and in need of fresh produce and cooking inspiration, we thoroughly recommend Bio Sabor. They are even open into the evening it seems. Do take enough cash though as they don't have a card machine.
Creamy Sweet Potato, Mushroom and Seitan Pie
As usual, I am not giving exact measurements as, well you can judge how much you want to make! It's more the idea I am sharing. Add some vegan cheese to the top if you like too.
Salt and pepper
Lovely big flat mushrooms
Leek (okay I used one big one for my dish)
Creamy sauce (I would make this at home but you could use prepacked like I did, for instance in the UK some Oatly cream)
1. Thickly slice the mushrooms and place in a deep oven dish. Drizzle with olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and bake on a medium temperature until they are softening and yielding juice.
2. Peel the sweet potatoes (or you could leave the skins on if you prefer but it will be chunkier) and chop before boiling until soft. Mash with a little margarine or olive oil and some salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, slice the leeks and fry gently until softened and very slightly browning.
4. Add the leeks to the mushrooms, and then thick slices of seitan. Mix together with the creamy sauce and then top with the mashed sweet potato.
5. Bake until browned and slightly crispy on top.
A Medley of Coloured Vegetables with Almonds
Again, just add in the quantities that suit. I did think about adding some passata to this dish but decided to leave the veg 'naked'. I might try this next time.
Unsalted whole almonds (I left skins on)
Peppers (different colours)
Salt and Pepper
1. Lightly fry the almonds whole in olive oil until slightly browning and sizzling. Then set aside (hmmm, don't nibble too many of them in the meantime).
2. Use the same pan and fry off the sliced onion until softening and then add all the other veg, chopped to roughly the same sizes. Continue until they are all softening and taking on a little bit of colour.
3. Add all the veg and the almonds into an oven dish. Sprinkle over chopped rosemary (to taste) and salt and pepper and mix up.
4. Bake on a medium temperature until browning, sizzling and fragrant.
I served both dishes with a side of roasted asparagus (with olive oil and a simple sprinkle of salt and pepper).