Low-calorie, one-dish: Locro with loche (RECIPE)

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Locro, oh what a remarkable thing. Feeding our many cravings, satisfying and simple to achieve. Naturally vegetarian (vegan if you cut out the cheese) a one pot dish that is low in calories and just so, astounding. Not to mention cheap; in Lima it’s a decent meal for 3 costing around S/. 10 or about US$4.

The word “locro” stems from the Quechua or Incan word “rocro” which is any stew that has potato, aji, and something else. In this case we have the pumpkin, her entourage, and her lover, the loche.

What’s loche? The 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 _Goat leg seco_, among other things.

locro
_(Photo courtesy of American Chicha)_

The original recipe for locro doesn’t include loche, nor does it 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!

Locro with loche

_Ingredients_

5 Yellow Ajis, devained and blended or 3 Tbsp Yellow Aji Paste
2 Tbsp Mirasol Aji 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

_Instructions_

1. In a clay pot, saute the yellow aji, mirasol aji, 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 aji 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 aji 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.

_To see the original post and more pictures, visit Jason’s blog_, “American Chicha”:http://www.americanchicha.com/uncategorized/locro-one-pot-vegetarian-low-cal-and-over-500-years-old/.

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