From all the wonders Peruvian cuisine has to offer, it seems like most of them are packed with beef, chicken, lamb or other sort of meat. Whether because you’re a vegetarian or you simply enjoy lighter dishes once in a while; you’re probably here looking for a Peruvian recipe that is packed with vegetables to feed your soul and belly.
Luckily for you, Peruvian food is as abundant in meat based meals as it is in dishes cooked entirely with vegetables. A very popular plant- based recipe is Locro de Zapallo. A stew ready to make you feel at home the moment it touches your mouth and that will charm your family.
The word zapallo might sound very exotic and confuse you, but there’s really nothing weird about it. Zapallo is a vegetable from Central America also known as ahuyama, calabacín or, in simpler words, pumpkin. Zapallo has numerous nutrients such as fiber, potassium and vitamin E, C and B; giving us great benefits such as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
First off… What is Locro de Zapallo?
Originally called “rocro” in Quechua tongue, Locro de Zapallo is a delicious stew with potatoes, ají amarillo, corn, fresh cheese, and other ingredients including, of course, zapallo. It is a dish perfect for vegetarians because of its flavour, texture and abundant nutrients; it was said that in pre columbian times people used to have Locro de Zapallo for dinner and head straight to dinner because of how light it is.
Locro de Zapallo is considered a crossbreed meal. It’s the perfect combination of native ingredients such as zapallo, potatoes and ají amarillo; and european ingredients such as onions, cheese and milk. If you enjoy the sweet taste of fruits such as pumpkin, Locro de Zapallo is the meal for you.
Locro de Zapallo is considered a Peruvian entree, it takes 15 minutes to prepare and a cooking time of 45 minutes; resulting in a total of 1 hour for a meal that serves four portions. Keep reading to learn the full recipe.
Ingredients for Locro de Zapallo:
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped finely
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons of ají amarillo paste, you can get it here
- 1 kg. chopped zapallo (you can also scrape it from the peel and get a squash presentation)
- 2 white potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup of yellow or white corn, grained
- 2 cups of vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup of peas
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- 1 cup fresh cheese diced
- 1 tablespoon of huacatay paste, you can get it here
- White rice, cooked
- Heat the vegetable oil at medium fire in a pan and fry the onion and garlic until they’re both tender. Ad the ají amarillo paste and cook for 4 more minutes.
- Add the zapallo, potatoes, corn, vegetable broth, salt and pepper.
If the peas that you’re going to use are ripe add them alongside the rest of the ingredients, if they’re softer add them right before you finish so that they don’t mash.
- Set the fire on low, cover the pan partially and let the mix cook, stirring occasionally until all the ingredients are soft enough and the zapallo disintegrates.
- Turn off the fire, add the evaporated milk and fresh cheese, stir well to heat everything up. Add herbs and serve immediately with the white rice.
The best thing about Locro de Zapallo is that, even though it’s a very light meal because it’s mainly vegetables; but if you feel there’s something missing you can easily mix it up and take it to another level by adding beef, lamb or chicken. You can even make a gourmet version of Locro de Zapallo by lightly cooking small shrimps and adding them to the mix.
So there you have it! Another amazing recipe that requires very little ingredients and has a preparation so simple an amateur can cook it. And don’t get fooled by it’s strange appearance, Locro de Zapallo can be the main dish of a fancy dinner if you work on its presentation, or it can be a side dish of a juicy steak of chicken.