#MeatlessMondays – Radically healthy papa a la Huancaina

Happy #MeatlessMondays everyone!

Today I’m in the mood to share one of my “radically healthy” creations. It’s been a while since I’ve been flirting with the idea of going vegan, and trying out a gluten-free diet, and although I’m neither of the two yet, I think it’s fair to say I’m halfway there. On a regular week I probably eat gluten or dairy only once or twice, and the rest of the time I’m pretty “kosher“, as I like to say, although I know I’m not using the word properly.

My inspiration for eating healthy comes from a deeply-ingrained belief that we are what we eat (Sacha Barrio, one of my favorite holistic doctors, once said on a radio interview that if you eat too many French fries you’ll end up with a French fry brain); but trying out colorful and wholesome recipes I find in books, magazines, and online, is also a huge turn on and keeps me on the right track.

A couple months ago I got Kris Carr’s latest book, “Crazy Sexy Kitchen” as a gift from my mom. If you don’t know Kris Carr, she’s one of the most inspiring, beautiful and sparkling health warriors out there. She’s been thriving with chronic cancer for the past 10 years or so, and teaching people how to live healthy, happy lives ever since. Her new book has been written in collaboration with Chef Chad Sarno, who is in charge of Whole Food’s healthy eating initiative, and together they’ve come up with “150 plant-empowered recipes to ignite a mouthwatering revolution”.

It’s in this book that I found a recipe for vegan cashew cheese, that I tried and loved. I was so excited about finding this nourishing “cheese” recipe that I started thinking of new ways to use it, and that’s when papa a la Huancaina popped into my head.

Now, a very important warning: this recipe DOES NOT intend to be a faithful version of papa a la Huancaina. If you want those exact flavors, then look at our traditional recipe. What this is intended to be is a papa a la Huancaina-inspired meal full of goodies for body and soul. So I repeat, if you want to have the traditional dish for lunch, don’t do this. If, on the other hand, you want a healthy lunch that will remind you a lot of papa a la Huancaina, then this may be the recipe for you!

To make this appetizer, I used nutrient-packed baby kale and spinach instead of the usual iceberg lettuce. If you don’t like kale, you may want to consider trying baby kale. The flavor is milder, and may convert you into a kale-eating machine without you even realizing it. Instead of crackers for the sauce, I used cooked quinoa, making this recipe gluten-free. Instead of cheese I used cashew cheese, but I did use milk (organic, grass-fed, and humanely-raised of course), so this is not strictly vegan. Feel free to replace with any dairy-free milk of your liking for a completely vegan dish. Instead of fresh aji amarillo, I used a mix of aji amarillo paste and yellow bell peppers; and instead of hard-boiled eggs, I used radishes, which are one of my favorite vegetables.

In addition to the potatoes (it’s important to buy organic potatoes because they’re one of the dirty dozen), I also used yams. You don’t have to do this if you prefer not to, but for me, the more colors and nutrients, the merrier.

Be playful, give this dish as many twists and turns as you want until you get the taste you desire, and as Kris Carr would say,

Peace and Veggies!

Radically healthy papa a la Huancaina
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • Cashew Cheese:
  • 1 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • For the dish:
  • 12 cooked organic mini potatoes
  • 1 cooked yam cut in slices
  • 2 tbsp (or more, depending on your taste) aji amarillo paste
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½-1 cup cooked quinoa
  • ½-1 cup cashew cheese (or queso fresco)
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 radishes
  • 12 black olives (the meaty, purple ones)
  • Spinach and baby kale
  1. Cashew Cheese:
  2. Process in a blender all the ingredients together and refrigerate for at least a couple hours (more is better).
  3. For the dish:
  4. In a blender process aji amarillo paste, bell pepper, oil, quinoa, cheese, milk, salt and pepper, adding more of any ingredient you think necessary to get to the right consistency and taste. It should be spicy and creamy (like fresh mayonnaise).
  5. Cover 4 plates with a bed of kale and spinach. Place potatoes and yam slices on top, and cover with the aji amarillo mixture. Decorate with olives, and radishes cut in half.





  1. Yum! I love cashew cheese. I did the Whole Foods 28 day vegan challenge and cashew cheese was my favorite treat. That and date paste avocado pudding. I didn’t last long as a vegan, but it definitely made me creative with vegetables.
    I’m going to try to make this for friends this weekend. Thanks!

  2. Thank you so much for this wonderful website! I just recently visited Peru for the first time and fell in love with the people and the food! I am determined to learn how to make real Peruvian food at home and this blog is helping a lot 🙂

  3. I really like that you are not changing the dish “only the ingredients”. That’s is our slogan in my cooking school.
    I’m Peruvian descended and I love their cuisine. However, I became vegan recently. I too tried making huancallina sauce using cashew cream and was a success. Kris Car is my hero and I live by her book, everybody should follow her beautiful way of life….so inspiring. I celebrate that you are her fan too.

    All the best!

    Chef Maria


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