Feijoada Sergipana

A bowl of feijoada Sergipana, with cabbage, sweet potato, plantains, chayote, butternut squash, okra, zucchini, carrots, eggplant and kale.

In most of Brazil, feijoada consists of only beans and meat, but in Bahia and Sergipe it is common to add vegetables including plantainskalepotatoescarrotscabbage, and pumpkins, usually near the end of the cooking process, when they are cooked from beneath by the vapors of the stew.


This regional version of the Brazil’s national dish, feijoada, is unique in that it’s chock full of vegetables. Ok, “full of” implies that they are mixed in; they are generally served on the side, but they are cooked in the same pot, and considered part of the dish.

The base bean and meat stew is pretty much the same dish we’ve seen several times over with other regional variation. Wikipedia says that in Sergipe brown beans are more commonly used than black, but my source recipes were split roughly 50/50, with black having a slight edge, so that’s what I used this time. (If you need more information about carne-seca or the various sausages, see my other recent posts in this series-Feijoada Baiana, Carioca, or Mineira.)

Most of the vegetables are pretty common; sweet potato, cabbage, carrots, and pumpkin are all familiar. I used butternut squash in place of pumpkin- one of the recipes I looked at called for something that my translation app rendered as “neck pumpkin”. When I looked it up, it looked like a giant, greenish butternut squash, and given that this isn’t really winter squash season, the butternut looked like the best option available to me, and I think that outside the english speaking world there’s not necessarily a distinction between what we call pumpkins and other types of winter squash.

Okra, chayote and plantains are probably less familiar to my northern neighbors, but are usually readily available at one of the grocery stores here in Duluth. You might struggle finding them in a smaller town. A couple of the recipes I looked at specified leaving the skin on the plantains. I was a little weirded out about eating banana skin at first, but It tastes like the rest of the plantain, and isn’t hard to chew or anything.

Then we have Maxixe and Jilós. Jilós are apparently a type of small eggplant, or at least closely related to eggplant. I used about half a medium sized standard eggplant cut into large chunks, which worked fine.

Maxixe (pronounced Ma-SHE-she, I believe), is the fruit of a tropical vine, related to cucumber. One of it’s english names is West Indian Gherkin. It looks kind of like a hedgehog and a cucumber had a baby.

Photo by Daniel Dan on Pexels.com

I didn’t even try to find a source for them; weird veggies are generally even harder to find internet sources to ship than weird cuts of meat and sausages, so I figured it wasn’t really worth the bother. A little internet research says Maxixe taste like a cross between a cucumber and a zucchini. I went with zucchini as a substitute. If you grow your own cucumbers you could maybe try chopping up one that has gotten big and seedy and using it instead.

All these various vegetables are generally cooked by putting them on top of the beans, without stirring them in. As they are cooked they are removed and served on the side. Feel free to omit or add vegetables depending on what you like. Just think about how long they will take to cook, and add them at the appropriate time- hard vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots earlier, tender veggies like cabbage and okra at them end.

Feijoada Sergipana

Serves: 8+
Prep: 45 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
Total: 2:30

400 g carne seca or charque
3-4 salted pork tails

840 g black beans
840 g pinto beans

1 ½ large onion, diced (divided)
1 ½ tomatoes, chopped
10 g cilantro
1 green onion
½ bunch mint
40 g bell pepper, diced
¾ teaspoon cumin powder
Black pepper to taste

3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons corn oil
240 g smoked bacon, diced
7 cloves garlic, minced
360 g beef eye of round
500 g smoked pork
2 smoked pork ears
200 g pork feet (about ½ of a split foot)
3-4 bay leaves

4 links calabresa sausage, sliced
300 g paio sausage, diced large

¾ teaspoon salt
345 g sweet potato, peeled and cut in large chunks
150 g carrots, cut in 1 inch pieces

115 g pumpkin in large chunks
5-6 small (egg sized) eggplant
½ chayote, large dice
2 plantains, sliced, with skin

16 pods okra, cut in half
2/3 small head cabbage, cut in thick wedges
2-3 Maxixe or 1 large zucchini, cut in large chunks

1 bunch kale 
1 bunch collards
Chili pepper, chopped, to taste

Powdered bay leaf, in place of whole
Chopped Brazil nuts, to garnish
2 potatoes, in large chunks
¾ small butternut squash, in place of pumpkin
¾ teaspoon paprika
160 g pork leg
1 smoked pork leg
Mashed or fried plantains, on the side
Pepper sauce, on the side
White rice, on the side
415 g salted pork loin
265 g pork ribs
1/3 bunch parsley
500 g carne de sol
300 g fresh pork

Cover salted meats with cold water, and leave to soak in the refrigerator for about 24 hours, changing water 2-3 times. 

Pick over your beans for foreign objects and bad beans. Rinse, drain, and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for about 8 hours, or over night. 

Place ½ an onion, the tomatoes, cilantro, green onion, mint, cumin and black pepper in a food processor and blitz to a rough puree. 

Drain the salted meats. Put the oil in a very large dutch oven or stock pot and add the bacon. Place over medium heat until the bacon fat starts to render. Add the remaining 1 onion, garlic and all the meats except the sausages. Sauté for about 5 minutes, then add the tomato-herb puree and cook for a few minutes. Add the bay leaves and water to cover, bring to a boil, cover the pan and reduce heat to simmer for about 30 minutes. 

Drain your beans and add them to the pot, along with the sausages. Add additional water if needed to cover beans, and return to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. 

Add salt and stir. Then add the sweet potato and carrots. Simmer for 10 minutes, or so, until beans are nearly tender. 

Once the beans are nearly cooked, add the pumpkin, eggplant, chayote and plantains. Simmer for about 10 minutes. 

Add the okra, cabbage, and maxixe or zucchini. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are just tender. As the various vegetables are cooked, remove them to a separate serving platter and keep warm. 

Meanwhile, slice the kale or collards into thin strips and sauté briefly in a little oil. 

Serve the feijoada with vegetables and kale on the side. Top with farofa and chopped chilies to taste. 

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