Not to mention economical. You can find it at restaurants and markets for about S/ 10 (about US $3), and it’s even cheaper to make at home.
The word locro stems from the Quechua word ruqru/rocro, which is any stew that has potato, ají peppers, and other ingredients like cheese or squash. In this case we highlight the locro de zapallo loche, a distinctive type of squash.
Loche (curcurbita moschata) is a cousin to pumpkins, squash and zucchinis. Originally hailing from the mountains of the coastal region of Lambayeque, it has become an emblematic part of the region’s cuisine and culture. Depictions of the gourd have been found in Mochica pottery that is known to be 6,000 years old. It takes dominance in most of their flagship foods such as arroz con pollo and seco de cabrito, among other things.
Ancient recipes for locro don’t include loche, nor does the dish necessarily need to be elaborated in a clay pot. I’m just a little eccentric plus both elements confer flavors that are indescribably charming. Some locros are made from other vegetables entirely. Tubers such as oca or mashua will be sliced and cooked until barely malformed. I prefer the pumpkin because it’s lower in calories, cheaper, and you don’t even need water.
5 yellow ajíes, devained and blended (or 3 tbsp yellow ají paste)
2 tbsp mirasol ají paste
7 cloves chopped garlic
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 lbs pumpkin
100 gr loche w/ skin (optional)
3/4 cup peas
1 cup degrained corn (Andean if possible)
1 1/2 cup lima beans (cooked)
3/4 cup diced carrots (.5cm x .5cm)
1 large potato diced (1cm x 1cm)
300 gr queso fresco (cut into even 1cm x 1cm pieces)
2 tbsp of minced fresh or dried huacatay
1 bay leaf
1. In a clay pot, sauté the yellow ají, mirasol ají, and garlic on a low heat for about 10 min or until the oil separate and forms pools.
2. Cut the pumpkin into 1cm thick pieces along with the loche, save the peels of the loche.
3. Mix all the vegetables and the potatoes together, leaving the lima beans aside. They will be cooked ahead of time.
4. Mix the vegetables with the ají base well, coating all the vegetables.
5. Add the bay leaf and huacatay steams (if available), and the loche skins all tied together.
6. Cover with aluminum foil and with a heavier top to make sure little vapor escapes.
7. After 15 minutes give it a stir, cover it for 10 more minutes or until the pumpkin turns to porridge and the vegetables are perfectly cooked.
8. Take the pot off the heat, remove the bay leaf and stems.
9. Mix the queso fresco and minced huacatay and serve with white rice.
Decoration: Wash the loche skins with running water and have them act as some barrier, as you mount the locro high in the middle then finish with a slightly roasted yellow ají stem and huacatay flowers. (Only if you want to get unnecessarily fancy.)
Good to know: Huacatay is an Andean herb used in many Peruvian dishes. May be hard to find but the flavor is extraordinary.
This recipe was originally published on americanchicha.com.
Cover photo: Gaston Acurio Facebook Page
This article has been updated from its original publication on January 20, 2016.
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