Reprinted with permission from The New Portuguese Table: Exciting Flavors from Europe's Western Coast by David Leite, © Clarkson Potter (August, 2009).

Massa de pimentao, a paste made from heavily salt-cured red bell peppers, is a classic Portuguese staple. Originally from the Alentejo province, the paste is the major flavor component of the region's—and now, the country's—cooking. Every cook has her own version, some made from fresh bell peppers, others from roasted peppers, and still others from paprika.

Because this version is lightly salted and richly seasoned, all you have to do to make dinner is rub a bit of it on beef, chicken, or strong-flavored fish, or toss it with peeled, halved potatoes before roasting. It's that simple.

(Paprika is made from red peppers. In this easy recipe, the two paprikas — sweet and smoked — stand in for the traditional salt-cured red bell peppers.)

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons sweet smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 8 to 10 garlic cloves, to taste
  • 2 turkish bay leaves, well crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon double concentrate tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 7 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 5 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • A few dashes of piri-piri sauce or store-bought hot sauce, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

1. Dump both types of paprika, the wine, garlic, bay leaves, tomato paste, lemon juice, cilantro, parsley, salt, pepper, and piri-piri sauce into a food processor or mini chop and pulse until the garlic and herbs are minced. Scrape down any chunky bits from the sides of the bowl.

2. While the motor is running, pour in the olive oil and continue whirring until the paste is slick and homogeneous, 1 to 2 minutes. Use the mixture immediately, or spoon it into a small glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate. The paste will keep for up to a month in the refrigerator.