Locro de Zapallo – Taste, Color And Nutrients In One Plate

Andean pumpkin, potato and black mint stew

locro-r-1024x690Its 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.

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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.

choclo-r-1024x768Besides 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.

papas2r-1024x980To 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, taste, color and nutrients in one plate
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons aji amarillo paste (optional)
  • 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 cup giant kernel corn
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ cup green peas
  • ½ cup unsweetened evaporated milk
  • 1 cup white cheese, diced (queso fresco)
  • 2 tablespoons huacatay leaves (black mint), or coriander leaves, chopped
  • White rice, cooked
  • Preparation:
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan heat the vegetable oil over medium heat, saute onion and garlic, stirring until the onion is very soft. Add the aji amarillo paste and cook four minutes longer, stirring every now and then.
  2. Add pumpkin, potatoes, corn, vegetable stock, salt, and pepper. Lower the heat, and cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are tender. Add green peas.
  3. Turn off the heat. Add evaporated milk and queso fresco. Stir and heat through. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed; add herbs, and serve immediately with white rice.


Comments

  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.

    • 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.

        Colleen

  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.

      Colleen

  4. Looks yummy!

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