Locro / Andean Squash Stew

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


  1. Heat the oil; sauté the onion until translucent (4-5 minutes).
  2. Add the garlic and ají amarillo paste; cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the flour; stir to incorporate, and cook for one minute.
  4. Deglaze with stock, whisking constantly. Add salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a low boil. Reduce to a simmer; then add the squash Cook for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Add potatoes; cook for 20-25 minutes more (until potatoes are just tender).
  7. Add peas and corn; cook for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Stir in milk or cream and butter; blend.
  9. Gently fold in cheese. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  10. 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.
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Recipe by Jennifer Ramos Lorson.