Locro (ruqru in Quechua) is a pre-Colombian Incan meal that originated in the Andes Mountains. In Peru, it is a stew of pumpkin or squash, potatoes, corn and cheese (which was added after the Spanish conquest). It’s usually a winter dish; but I thought it would be perfect for this gloomy, rainy spell we’ve been enduring here in New York.
[In Ecuador, locro is a potato and cheese soup served with avocado. There is also a dish called locro in Argentina; but it is more of a meat-and-potatoes stew. We’ll get to those recipes another time, when we concentrate on those countries.]
I imagine some might turn up their noses at a “plain old squash” stew – I thought I would, too. But the hearty but clean, simple flavors shine through. I love this dish – I bet you will too!
- Extra virgin olive oil ¼ cup
- Acorn squash, peeled, large dice 2 pounds (two small squashes)
- Yellow onion, small dice 1 medium
- Garlic, minced 3 cloves
- Ají amarillo paste 1 Tbsp. / to taste
- All-purpose flour 1 tsp.
- White or yellow potato, quartered 4 small (or 2 medium)
- Peas (fresh if possible) 8 oz.
- Queso fresco, cubed 1 cup (8 oz.) + 4 oz. for garnish
- Chicken or vegetable stock 2 cups / as needed
- Evaporated milk or heavy cream ½ cup
- Butter 1 Tbsp.
- Salt ½ tsp. / to taste
- White pepper ¼ tsp. / to taste
- Fresh oregano, chopped (opt.) 1 Tbsp.
- Olives, sliced 6 each
- Heat the oil; sauté the onion until translucent (4-5 minutes).
- Add the garlic and ají amarillo paste; cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the flour; stir to incorporate, and cook for one minute.
- Deglaze with stock, whisking constantly. Add salt and pepper.
- Bring to a low boil. Reduce to a simmer; then add the squash Cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Add potatoes; cook for 20-25 minutes more (until potatoes are just tender).
- Add peas and corn; cook for 10-15 minutes.
- Stir in milk or cream and butter; blend.
- Gently fold in cheese. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Serve with white rice; garnish with chopped oregano, sliced olives and cubes of cheese.
- This recipe makes a pea-soupy consistency. For a thicker stew, use ½ the amount of stock and milk.
- Butternut squash is particularly good substitution. Pumpkin can also be used.
- This hearty stew is a great vegetarian meal option.
- For a vegan locro: substitute vegan vegetable stock, tofu cheese, and almond milk; use olive oil instead of butter.
Recipe by Jennifer Ramos Lorson.