From David Leite’s fabulous award-winning cookbook

This recipe for Portuguese red pepper paste is my take on the classic massa de pimentão, made from red bell peppers and salt. This paste adds all the other ingredients popular in Portugal: wine, paprika, garlic, hot sauce, and herbs. It’s Portugal in a jar.

It’s a bit like Asian fish sauce in that a little goes a loooooooong way. Rub a little bit of this paste on a beef roast, chicken (both above and below the skin), fish -- even peeled, halved potatoes before roasting. Or you can stir it into stews or soups. It works wonders when stirred into mayo or any other application you can imagine where you want or need a a bit of bling. Here's the recipe for my Portuguese Red Pepper Paste:

  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika

  • 2 tablespoons sweet smoked


  • 1/4 cup dry red wine

  • 8 to 10 garlic cloves

  • 2 crumbled Turkish bay leaves

  • 3 tablespoons store-bought or homemade tomato paste or 1 tablespoon double- concentrate tomato paste

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 7 sprigs cilantro

  • 5 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt (16 g)

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

  • Few dashes Piri-Piri sauce, or to taste

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • A Leites Culinaria Original Recipe

    In a food processor, combine all ingredients except olive oil. Pulse until the garlic and herbs are minced, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

    With the motor still running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream and continue whirring until the mixture comes together in a slick, homogeneous paste, 1 to 2 minutes.

    Use the mixture immediately or spoon it into a small glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to a month.

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    This story appeared in Relish Portugal | Jan Feb Mar 2020

    The award-winning, English language food and culture magazine for Portugal lovers everywhere, Relish Portugal, sports a deep issue library of always relevant stories, recipes, and more. Each issue is instantly downloadable at purchase.