Collage Dance Collective’s Luisa Cardoso Shares Her Vegetarian Baião de Dois

August 8, 2023

Growing up in Salvador, Brazil, Luisa Cardoso ate rice and beans every day. When she moved to the U.S. in 2014—first to Miami, to attend Miami City Ballet School’s pre-professional program, and then to Memphis to join Collage Dance Collective, where she’s now in her seventh season—Cardoso found the availability of prepared food very tempting. “But my mom always taught me that it’s nice to know what’s in the dishes you’re eating,” says Cardoso, who decided to learn to cook the kind of food she’d enjoyed at home for herself.

Finding Brazilian baião de dois, a traditional rice-and-bean dish, too heavy to eat in the middle of long rehearsal days, Cardoso experimented until she settled on a lighter version with the same familiar flavor, replacing beans with split peas, and rice with quinoa. “One day I decided to cook them in the same pot to save time and so I wouldn’t have to wash two dishes, and it came out great,” she says. Cardoso has been vegetarian for the past four years; she likes to rotate in different vegetables, like Brussels sprouts and squash, and occasionally adds tofu for an extra dose of protein. “I make it every week and take it to work,” she says of her take on baião de dois, which she calls “baião para todos.”

a female wearing a white shirt stirring a pot with a wooden spoon
Luisa Cardoso. Courtesy Cardoso.

Kitchen Playlist

Cardoso finds cooking relaxing. “It helps me to wind down from the day,” she says. “It’s me time.” Music helps to set her mood: “I like anything that calms me down. I love to listen to Brazilian music, like bossa nova.”

Going Vegetarian

Living in a city known for barbecue can be challenging as a vegetarian. But Cardoso works hard to make sure her diet includes enough protein to sustain her daily dance schedule. In addition to split peas, Cardoso loves cooking with lentils and chickpeas. For dinner, she often pairs a dish like her baião de dois with stir-fried tofu or tempeh.


  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup green split peas (can replace with red lentils if desired); 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup white quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced in rounds
  • 1 zucchini, sliced down the middle lengthwise, then in half-circles
  • 1/3 cup broccoli or cauliflower, chopped in medium-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsps canned tomato sauce (optional, adds extra flavor)


  1. In a medium high-walled pot, add the olive oil, cumin, coriander, and bay leaf, and heat over medium heat.
  2. Add the split peas and 2 cups of water, cover the pot, and turn the heat up to high. Allow the peas to boil for 20–25 minutes, until they’re soft but not falling apart.
  3. Add the quinoa, vegetables (carrots, zucchini, and broccoli or caulifl ower), and salt, and turn the heat down to medium low. If the mixture looks dry, add a bit more boiling water. Place the cover back on and allow to cook for about 15 minutes, or until everything is soft, checking occasionally. Add more salt to taste.
  4. If using tomato sauce, stir it in now. Then turn the heat off and let the mixture sit, covered, for a few minutes.

a plate with baião de dois
Courtesy Cardoso.