As you may know or at least imagine, Peruvian cuisine is a wonderful combination of flavors that take influence from many parts of the world and at the same time fill our bodies with essential nutrients. Peru’s gastronomy is considered very healthy and complete in terms of a balanced daily diet. But all over the world, more and more people are changing their lifestyle into vegetarianism. Whether it’s because of animal cruelty, to make an impact at stopping climate change or other personal reasons, vegetarianism is starting to become the new normal for a great part of the population.
If you are part of the people who have introduced vegetarianism into your life but still want to enjoy the wonderful gifts of Peru, most people might tell you this is a very hard thing to accomplish because the most popular Peruvian dishes are meat or fish based. But we think otherwise!
Getting to know Peruvian vegetarian food is in fact possible; this because meat is a luxury in Peru and many communities have to rely on vegetables mainly to prepare their daily meals. So many of the recipes you’ll see below include some of the main ingredients in Peruvian food: quinoa, ají and polenta (ground maize flour).
We must mention beforehand that some of the recipes below DO include eggs and dairy products because they are based on a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. Also many of this Peruvian vegetarian food recipes are side dishes but they are filling enough because one of the main ingredients in Peruvian food are potatoes, which are perfect for satiating hunger. Also be careful with soups because they might be chicken broth base.
Papa a la Huancaína
This is a classic of Peruvian gastronomy. Papa a la Huancaína is a simple yet delicious dish which consists of boiled potatoes and eggs bathed in a strong yellow sauce make with Peruvian yellow peppers. The dish is actually named after it’s very special sauce, a flavor that you’ll find in many Peruvian vegetarian food recipes. To read the full recipe click here.
This spaghetti or noodle dish uses the same spicy and creamy huancaína cheese sauce as the recipe above. Although it is usually served with chicken or beef, you can easily not include any meat in the recipe and still have filling and abundant peruvian vegetarian food in your plate.
Sopa de Habas (Bean soup)
It’s also known as Chupe de habas, and it’s nothing more than a very satisfying bean soup, the perfect meal for vegetarians. You can find this recipe in very different versions that might include onion, garlic, tomato or even yellow potato, in the end it’s up to you how many and which vegetables to add to the mix. Also, a classic version is made with chicken broth which you can easily replace with water.
Vegetarian Causa Rellena
Causa Rellena is one of the main dishes of Peruvian cuisine. It’s a fun, simple potato based dish that can include different fillings depending on personal taste. It can include fillings such as tuna, shredded chicken, crab or shrimps. (Click here to read the classic recipe.) But to give this dish a Peruvian vegetarian food spin you can also use olive paste as main filling. Other ingredients used for the filling are rocoto, avocado and yellow hot pepper paste.
Peruvian vegetarian food can also be presented in the form of salads, and this salad was born in the southern part of the country, in the city of Arequipa. Making the best out of choclo corn, this recipe includes tomatoes, olives and lettuce leaves. Other variations of this salad can also be served with rocoto chili peppers and chunks of fresh cheese.
Even though Peruvian cuisine relies heavily on meat as a primary source of protein in their recipes, it’s not true that you can’t find the true flavors in dishes that are completely meat free. So go ahead and give Peruvian vegetarian food a try! You’ll find the absolute best recipes that are safe for your diet and still include the soul of Peruvian food.