Locro de zapallo, taste, color and nutrients in one plate

Andean pumpkin, potato and black mint stew

Its original name was rocro, in Quechua, and then it transmuted to locro. The basic version is a pumpkin stew with potatoes and chili peppers, and this is a wonderful vegetarian meal, but you could choose to add different ingredients like shrimps, beef, dried meat, lamb, hen, and seaweeds. It is the perfect marriage between native ingredients, like pumpkin, potatoes and chili peppers, with other flavours that came to our country via the Spanish conquistadors, like onion, milk and cheese.

Its appearance is not the more stylish, or as my good friend and wonderful photographer Amir would say: it’s not photogenic at all, like many of our most typical stews. But looks are deceiving even when it comes to food, as it is one of the most delicious and tasty entrees of our repertoire. If you like the sweet pumpkin flavor, this dish is perfect for you. They say that in Colonial times, many people had locro for dinner and then went straight to bed. We guess this was because the dish is not heavy like other popular dishes back then.

Besides its beautiful color, it is full of nutrients. You can add huacatay (black mint), if you find it. I have seen it in some supermarkets in the US in the form of paste, but I don’t plan on trying it any time soon because I really don´t like huacatay (I´m sorry, but it´s true, which probably proves I wasn’t born in Peru, as Peruvians adore this herb). For me, cilantro leaves are fine.

To upgrade this recipe, add 2 dozen shrimp tails, cleaned, lightly sautéed in a little oil or butter until they change their color.

As a side dish: always white rice (or brown rice, as my daughter used in the picture, if you prefer it).


Locro de zapallo (Serves 4)

  • 2 lb pumpkin, diced. We use a type of pumpkin called “macre”, but if you’re not in Peru you can experiment with any pumpkin. In that case you may need to adjust the cooking time and method, to get a very soft, mashed pumpkin.
  • 2 white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons aji amarillo paste (optional)
  • 1 cup giant kernel corn
  • ½ cup green peas
  • ½ cup unsweetened evaporated milk
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup white cheese, diced (queso fresco)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons huacatay leaves (black mint), or coriander leaves, chopped
  • White rice, cooked


*In a saucepan with a little vegetable oil, sauté onion and garlic over high heat. Add pumpkin, potatoes, corn, vegetable stock, salt, and pepper. Lower the heat, and cook, semi covered and stirring every now and then, until all the vegetables are tender. Add green peas.

*Add evaporated milk and white cheese. Stir and heat through but do not let it boil. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed; add herbs, and serve immediately with white rice.


  1. I think your title says it all: Taste, color and nutrients in one plate! Looks delicious.

  2. This post made my eyes pop out and has me very interested. I want to try this, but want my first time to be made by someone who is familiar with the soup. I would hate to make it and think I had it right and the flavor be completely off. I need a starting point…. Love the little point on top of the rice. Nice touch.

    • Peru Delights says:

      You´re right. It´s not easy when you don´t know the exact flavor or texture of the dish. Maybe a Peruvian friend can cook it for you.

      • Hi,

        For one thing, you simply have to use fresh peas. The flavor of the frozen is too sweet and will create another flavor. What I do is when the peas are in season, I buy and bag and Trader Joe’s and freeze them for when I need them. Not sure what they do at the other brand processing plants because I look to see if they add sugar and they never do, yet, they gross me out when I put them in something that has a delicate flavor. If you put the in like Aguadito that has LOTS of cilantro, you might not notice it so much.


  3. That is just beautiful..makes me wish my people liked pumpkin more. I love it, they don’t. Love the color of this so much…gracias!

    • Hi Carrie,

      After tasting it, they might change. My daughter was such a picky eater when she was 10 and under. She was terrible. I took her to Peru and the food smelled soooo good, she even ate squid. I was absolutely flabbergasted. After that, she was so interesting in expanding her food horizons.


  4. Looks yummy!


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