Wheat berries are stewed with fava beans and potatoes, then seasoned with fresh mint to create Guiso de Trigo (Peruvian Wheat Berry Stew), this delicious Andes meal.
As we would make our way out to the mountain cities, we were often greeted by changes in landscape, new creatures and cold temperatures. Alpacas and vicuñas lined the highway and would peer at the car as it would drive by. The mountains appeared like a patchwork quilt; the shades of green were too numerous to count. Purple flowers dot the potato fields and the quinoa appears like a vertical rainbow of color.
Arriving meant leaving the car and stepping out into the bone chilling cold temperatures. Most of the towns visited, we were greeted by friends who immediately welcomed us into their homes and put a warm mug of something to drink in our hands. As we started to adjust to the temperatures, the layers of jackets, long sleeves and hats began to peel off.
The food served in the mountains consists primarily of the things that are harvested nearby. Items brought from further away, like vegetable oil or canned tuna are sold at high prices and can be hard to find. If you ever have an opportunity to visit, you will be served things like choclo con queso (starchy corn with fresh cheese), quinoa atamalada (stewed quinoa) or maybe a delicious Guiso de Trigo (wheat berry stew). Of course, if you have awhile before coming this way to visit the Andes, you could make this in the comfort of your own home. Just be sure to turn the air up really high so that you feel as though you are in a Peruvian Mountain town.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup aji amarillo paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound wheat berries, soaked and drained
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup fava beans
- 1/2 pound potatoes, cubed
- 1/2 pound queso fresco (fresh cheese)
- 2 tablespoons mint, minced
- Heat oil over medium high in a deep skillet or small stock pot. Add onions and saute until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Stir in the aji amarillo paste along with salt & pepper. Allow the onion mixture to cook until it thickens and caramelizes, about 3 minutes.
- Incorporate the wheat berries and broth and bring it to a slow boil. Turn the heat down to medium, cover and simmer 20 minutes.
- Add fava beans and cubed potatoes and continue to simmer until they are cooked completely. Add queso fresco and mint; stirring to combine. If the mixture is a bit “dry” at this point, you can add just a bit more broth. Alternatively, if the mixture is a bit runny, be sure to simmer uncovered for a couple extra minutes to thicken it a bit more.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, if necessary. Serve with rice and rocoto sauce.