Locro de Zapallo – Peruvian Stew
Locro de Zapallo, a classic dish from beautiful Peru, is a hardy vegetarian dish perfect yearlong but especially satisfying throughout the winter months. Although some may choose to add chicken, fish, or shrimp, the traditional Peruvian locro, or stew, is composed of zapallo macre, or pumpkin, potatoes, cheese, vegetables, and spices.
While some of the ingredients are difficult to find in U.S. supermarkets, there are many online stores that offer them at reasonable prices and deliver them right to your door. If you love Latin cuisine and have a few recipes you would like to try but do not have the right ingredients, I suggest you give this a try. This specific recipe calls for aji amarillo, an orange pepper most commonly found in South America that is indispensable in many Peruvian dishes. Try: http://www.amigofoods.com .
The pepper used has a slightly fruity taste but spicy nonetheless. You can try to substitute aji moto by blending yellow bell pepper and Habanero pepper into a puree consistency but trust me when I say that aji moto is too unique in flavor to be substituted by anything else. Enough talking – let’s cook!
1 1/2 lb. zapallo macre (can be substituted with butternut squash)
1 1/4 cups queso fresco (if you can not find queso fresco, try feta or a white cheese that does not melt easily)
1 medium onion finely shopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sweet corn kernels (in Peru they use choclo – huge corn kernels)
1/2 cup sweet peas
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 tsp. of fresh or pureed ahi amarillo
1/2 tsp. of aji panca (if you can not order it online try adding paprika for color,however, taste will differ slightly)
1 tsp. ground cumin
olive oil for sautéing
salt, pepper to taste
Cooked, white rice for serving
Optional – 1 tbsp of *huacatay
* Huacatay is often described as black mint. It is stronger in flavor than the mint leaves we find in the U.S. but if you are adventurous, try the replacement! I leave this ingredient out, out of preference.
– Cut the zapallo into cubes (or butternut squash if you are using this instead) and place into large pot. Cover with water and cook until the squash or pumpkin is soft. Save the water for later use. Place pumpkin cubes in a bowl and smash into a puree. Set aside.
– On a different pot, add the olive oil and heat. Add onion and cook approx. 2 minutes. Add garlic, aji amarillo, aji panca, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
– Add cubed potatoes and cover them with some of the water you used to cook the pumpkin in. Stir, cover, and cook until potatoes are cooked through, about ten minutes.
– Once potatoes are cooked, add pumpkin puree to the potato pot and mix until well incorporated. Add corn, peas, and evaporated milk. Heat through while stirring.
– Add salt and pepper according to taste
– Stir in cheese
– Add huacatay and serve with a side of white rice. Accompany with fried plantains or a hardboiled egg
Note: I added a bit more water but if you like a thicker stew, feel free to adjust ingredients accordingly