Hello friends! How are you? I hope you had a lovely Easter if they celebrate it, and if not, I hope you had an exquisite weekend. For this post I’m going to talk about the Peruvian Locro. Would you believe there was a time when I thought I didn’t like it? Good thing I corrected my ways and now I love it. My favorite thing about it is the melted cheese and that aroma it gets from the Peruvian huacatay mint (I mention this below). Español aquí.

This recipe is very special to me because I got it from my mom. I love how her locro tastes and I’m so glad I could have this recipe. I hope you like it too and, as always, I would love to know if you made it and see how it turned out.

I will start by saying that locro is a thick stew from the Andes region and that is not only a traditional dish in Peru, but also in Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador. Its ingredients vary according to the region from which it is prepared. In Peru, it is made with pumpkin, potatoes, corn and cheese.

I always try to describe the ingredients so that you can know where to find them or at least know what they are, so I was surprised when I realized that the Peruvian term for the main ingredient which we call “zapallo” is only limited to Peru. I didn’t know the right term was squash or pumpkin, and that it is actually a fruit (a definite identity crisis). Just so you know, “zapallo” comes from the native peruvian Quechua word “sapallu”. According to Wikipedia, its scientific name is cucurbita maxima.

Another ingredient that is listed below is the aromatic herb huacatay, whose name also comes from the Quechua vocabulary as “wakatay”. According to Wikipedia it has many names in English, with “black mint” as the most predominant. To be more specific, according to the Dictionary of Traditional Peruvian Gastronomy by Sergio Zapata Acha the scientific name is tagetes minuta. I have read in some posts that it can be found in Latin markets outside of Peru, so I hope you can find it and try it. It is very aromatic for food and it makes a whole lot of difference for the locro. However don’t be discouraged if you do not find it. Remeber it is optional.

1 ½ kilo of seedless and crustless yellow squash, cut up into small thin strips
3-4 potatoes largely choppe, peeled or well washed
2 andean corn in slices
½ cup peas
1 red onion finely chopped
4 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
½ cup fresh cheese
½ cup of evaporated milk
⅓ cup of oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 branches of huacatay, leafless (optional)
¼ cup finely chopped huacatay leaves (optional)

Heat a large pot with oil.

Sauté the onion and garlic, and salt and pepper.

Add the squash.

Incorporate the corn, potatoes, and peas.

Add two branches of huacatay without the leaves.

Cook over low heat until the pumpkin comes apart. In my case it took 30 to 40 minutes to cook. You can remove the corn and potatoes to squash the squash if it looks solid. Return them when you are done.

Add the cheese, milk and huacatay leaves.

Cook for 2 to 5 more minutes.

Traditionally it is served with white rice, although it is possible to mention that the locro already contains enough carbohydrates with the corn and the potato.

Serves 4 to 6 servings.