We started the new year with a traditional dish from my hometown, Porto, called “Francesinha.” And nothing better than to share it with close friends.
Personally is one of my favourite dishes. It’s full of flavour and explosive in the mouth. It is also a very peculiar plate. A mix between a sandwich, a “lasagna” of bread and a very spicy sauce. Just by changing the filling, you make it unique.
The Story Behind the Dish
Daniel da Silva, after returning from years living abroad, tried to adapt the French croque-monsieur to fancy the Portuguese taste and ended up creating a hyped up version he called ‘Francesinha’ – which can be translated as The Little French. The special sauce popularised the sandwich in 1953 at 'A Regaleira', a restaurant in Porto, and quickly became a phenomenon deeply associated with the city, although it can sometimes be found elsewhere in Portugal.
For 7 people (or 7 francesinhas)
7 onions (1 onion per person)
1.5lit tomato sauce
Sun dried tomatoes
Chilli and chilli flakes
3 tbsp of nutritional yeast
For the Filling of the Sandwich:
We use these ingredients but you can be creative and use anything you like.
Slices ½ aubergine (2 slices per person)
Slices 1 Courgette (2 slices per person)
2 bags of Spring greens (chopped)
1 package of Vegan chorizo (or vegan sausages)
Roasted red pepper
For the Sandwich
2 packages of sliced bread (white bread works best)
3 packages (28 slices) of gouda cheese or vegan equivalent
Air-fried potatoes to put on the side and eat with the sauce.
Chop the onions ruffly, put in a pan with a generous portion of olive oil, leave it to high heat until they’re soft. Then add the salt and chilli flakes and leave it a bit more.
Add the dried tomatoes and tomato sauce.
When the sauce starts to boil add 2 spoons of balsamic vinegar, nutritional yeast, a bit of turmeric, smoked paprika a lot.
Leave to mix the flavours while you grill the vegetables and the rest of filling.
Use the mixer for the sauce to blend the sauce and taste it, if needed, adjust the spices. The sauce is supposed to be hot and intense but adjust to your taste.
Toast the slices of bread.
Use a slice of bread to use as the base and start to add the filling in layers: 2 slices of aubergine, 2 of courgettes, one of chorizo. Add another slice of bread with the spring greens on top. “Close” the sandwich with another slice of bread.
Add 4 slices of cheese, designed in a cross, on top.
Put it in the oven, to allow the cheese to melt.
Serve with hot sauce on top. Keep adding more sauce to keep warm and preserve the moisture.