Cape Verdean Foods




Gretchen Gayle Ellsworth and Molly McGehee, Editors
Molly McGehee, Production Coordinator.
Rachel Young, Cover and Art Work

Special Thanks To:

Mary Faial, Festival Aide
Gina Sanchez, Fellow and Ray Almeida, Sr. Program Advisor, Cape Verdean Connection Program
Beverly Simons, Foodways Coordinator.

Cape Verde's dry, tropical island environment and its role in Portugal's 15th-century colonizations have shaped its cooking traditions. Enslaved Africans brought knowledge of growing and cooking tropical crops. The Portuguese brought livestock. They used Cape Verde for feeding the crews of their sailing ships and as an experimental station for growing foods from the Americas, such as corn, hot peppers, pumpkins, and cassava. They also transplanted sugar,bananas, mangos, papayas, and other tropical crops from Asia. National food preferences, reflected in ritual foods, include an affection for dried corn, either whole kernels (hominy/samp) or ground to various degrees of fineness. The national dish, catchupa, is a stew of hominy and beans with fish or meat. It means home to Cape Verdeans everywhere. Xerem, dried corn pounded in mortar to the fineness of rice, is the staple of feasts. And kuskus, ground finer still and steamed in a distinctive ceramic pot called a binde, is a special treat served hot with butter and milk (kuskus ku leite) or molasses (kuskus ku mel). Cape Verdean Americans maintain most of these national tastes.



3-4 lbs. cubed meat, pork or beef
4-5 white potatoes
3 lbs. mandioca root
3 medium white yams
3 green bananas

Trim off excess fat, season and marinate meat overnight with salt, garlic, vinegar, bay leaf, and pepper. Peel and cut up potatoes, yams, mandioca, and green bananas. In a pot, cook meat with marinade and 3 onions with 1/2 cup cooking oil on low heat until medium done. Add all vegetables to meat and cover with water. Cook on low until vegetables cook. Season with salt, garlic, bay leaf, paprika, and pepper.


1/2 whole chicken, cut up
2 medium onions, chopped
3-4 chicken boullion cubes
1 c. short-grain white rice (may substitute long-grain)

Saute onions in oil. Next, add chicken pieces, boullion cubes and a sufficient amount of water. After bringing to a boil, add rice and stir occasionally. Simmer approximately 30-35 minutes, until desired consistency. This thick soup is offered special family events and on New Year's eve.


6 white potatoes
3 sweet potatoes
l bunch fresh parsley
l green pepper
l red pepper
3 medium onions
2 medium tomatoes
4 scallions
3 lbs. fresh, whole, cleaned saltwater fish (examples: tautog, cod, bluefish or sea bass).

In a large kettle, gently saute chopped onions, tomatoes, scallions and green and red peppers in oil. Next, add fish cut into small pieces and water. Cover and bring to a gentle boil. Add peeled potatoes and chopped parsley to kettle. Reduce heat and simmer. A little may be added to make a thicker broth.


2 lbs. octopus (or squid)
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons of oil
2 tomatoes or l tablespoon of tomato paste
2 cloves of garlic
l onion
2 grains of hot pepper (or as much as you want)

Wash and cut octopus into small pieces. Place octopus in a pot with two bay leaves and 3 tablespoons of oil. Heat on medium. Allow octopus to cook for approximately 20 minutes. Add tomatoes, cloves of garlic, diced onion and hot pepper. Heat on medium low until stew-like. Stir occasionally.



5 ears fresh corn (or fresh off cob)
1/5 lb. (100 g.) linguica (Portuguese smoked sausage),
sliced 1/4 squash
1/2 lb. (1/4 kg.) fava beans, (or lima beans) fresh or dried
2 ripe tomatoes (or equivalent tomato paste)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 peppercorns
1 bunch of flat leaf coriander
1 large onion, sliced

Scrape off the fresh corn kernels into a boiler pot. Gently saute onion, linguica, and pepper in olive oil. Add to the corn the rest of the ingredients and a sufficient amount of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer. Prior to serving, season with salt and garnish with chopped flat leaf coriander (cilantro).


4 c. samp (hominy)
1 c. kidney beans
1 c. large lima beans
1/2 c. shell beans
whole chicken
2 lbs. spareribs (pork or beef)
1 chourico (garlic spicy sausage), sliced
l blood sausage, when avallable, sliced
1/4 lb. lean bacon, diced
2 lbs. cabbage, chopped coarsely
2 lbs. tomatoes, quartered
2 lbs. green bananas, peeled and sliced
2 lbs. fresh yams, peeled and chunked
2 lbs. fresh sweet potatoes, peeled and chunked
2 lbs. hard winter squash, peeled and chunked (e.g. buttercup, butternut, hubbard etc.)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 bay leaves
Flat leaf coriander

Soak the samp and beans overnight. In a stock pot, heat six cups of water. Add two tablespoons of olive oil, onion, garlic and bay leaf to water for seasoning. Bring to boil and add samp and beans. In a separate kettle, cook the vegetables except the tomatoes with the spareribs, chourico or linguica, blood sausage, and bacon. Next, cut up and season the chicken. Saute chicken in olive oil. Add tomatoes, and let simmer until samp and beans are almost folk tender but not quite done.

Add cooked vegetables and meats into stock pot. Cook on low heat for approximately one hour. About 20 minutes before the cachupa is done you may mix in well sauted onion, garlic and tomato paste mixture (sofrito) to adjust and enhance the flavor.

Turn off heat and let sit in the covered pot for at least one half hour before serving. Arrange meats and vegetables on a large serving platter and serve the corn and beans in a bowl.


4 lbs. xerem (coarse ground corn)
2 butternut squash
20 kale leaves
l lb. salted pork fat, diced
3 lbs. pork meat, in cubes
2 lbs. dry beans
4 medium onions

Preparation: Soak dry beans overnight in water. Wash in warm water and soak ground corn 2 hours before cooking with l quartered onion. Marinate and season pork meat overnight with salt, garlic, vinegar, bay leaf, and pepper. Cover dry beans and salted pork with water. Cook about one hour and a half or until medium done. Drain beans when cooked. Cut kale leaves into strips and boil until medum done in water. Drain kale leaves. Cook ground corn in water until medium done. Cut butternut squash and gut out seeds. Leave skin on and divide into about 6 pieces.

Cooking: In a large pot, layer the following ingredients: squash at the bottom first, skin side down. Then add the pork meat, kale, beans, cubed onions, ground corn. Spice with salt, garlic, bay leaf, pepper. Add 1/2 cup oil and 3 cups water. Cover with aluminum foil and pot cover. Cook on low flame for one hour and a half.



2 lbs. coconut
2lbs. sugar
1/4 burnt sugar or molasses
grated lemons

Grate the coconut. Carefully brown the sugar but control for over burning. Then carefully combine coconut and burnt sugar to a little bit of water. Next, add 2 lbs. of sugar and cook. When the mixture is just about done, add lemon and mix. Remove from heat. Next, pound the mixture well for five minutes. Flatten on to buttered surface. Cut out into square or diagonal shapes. Let harden.


2 1/2 lbs. firm papaya
2 lbs. sugar

Cut the papaya into fine strips, then peel and wash well. Place the papaya and sugar on on a slow fire until the sugar dissolves. Cook for ten minutes, then set aside for a half hour. After a half an hour reheat at a higher flame, until the mixture becomes sugar-like or crystalized. Shortly afterwards remove from heat, and, using a spoon and fork, mold into different shapes.


l lb. (1/2 kg) soft goat cheese (use freshest cheese possible)
l lb. (1/2 kg) sugar
2 cups water
12 egg yolks
4 egg whites

Grate the cheese. Boil sugar in water to the consistency of a thick syrup. Add the cheese and mix well. Next, remove the mixture from heat and combine with beaten egg yolks and egg whites.

Sprinkle the bottom of a pan with burnt sugar. Pour in the mixture and bake in a double boiler. The latter may also be accomplished by placing the pan with the mixture into a pan filled with hot water. The mixture can also be baked in a shallow, buttered and floured baking pan.

Bake in the oven. After removed and cooled, cut into squares and top with granulated sugar.


4-5 lbs. xerem (coarse ground corn)
2 lbs. salted pork fat (try it with an animal fat substitute but you compromise authentic flavor)
4 medium onions
1 lb. pork meat, cubed

Soak xerem over night in the following manner: cover xerem with water; add 1 lb. of pork fat and 2 onions. The next day, place the rest of pork fat, sliced onions and pork meat into a large pot. Add xerem and a sufficient amount of water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until all of moisture is absorbed. ??

ra & rgl

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