Locro de Zapallo is a meatless vegetable stew which features a Peruvian winter squash. It is delicious, easy to make and perfect for cold days.
Winter is beginning to fade here in Peru and we are seeing the sun poke through the clouds more regularly these last few weeks. While I don’t enjoy the gray skies looming over us for 8 months straight and neither do I enjoy the incredibly damp, cold days, but what I do enjoy the in between seasons. I know, normal folks would call that “fall” and “spring” but truth be told, that feels “wrong” here in Lima. There are no leaves changing color and no “April showers will bring May flowers.” There is really no rain to mark winter either. All that to say, sometimes I celebrate the “season” by the types of food I crave and prepare.
Since we are seeing some of the last wintery days, and so many of you are entering them, I wanted to be sure to share some belly-warming recipes that I love! Locro de Zapallo is certainly one of those. This really is not a summer dish, it truly is a meal for colder days.
The large (read: gigantic … bigger than I ever imagined!) zapallo macre squash is featured in this recipe. But it is one of those ingredients that will hardly be a leading lady. Here we buy mere pieces of the large squash from the market. When cooked, zapallo macre breaks down completely which helps give body to soups and definitely gives this stew it’s creamy texture. The Locro de Zapallo is meatless and includes a variety of vegetables. I make this without the milk that is usually stirred in and the cheese can be omitted for a dairy free version. Typically, I serve this along with Milanesa de Pollo so that I can be sure we get enough protein eaten.
- 2 cups of diced onion, about 1 large
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup of aji mirasol paste
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 cup of fresh peas
- 1 cup of boiled choclo
- 3 cups of cubed zapallo macre squash
- 3 cups of cubed “papa blanca” or other white-flesh potato
- 2 cups of vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup fava beans
- 1 cup of cubed queso serrano
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped huacatay
- Add onion to a deep sauté pan and sauté with a couple tablespoons of water at a time, using about 1/2 cup in total, (or use vegetable oil to sauté) until onion is softened. Add garlic and sauté for 3 more minutes or until golden brown. Stir in aji mirasol paste, salt, pepper, peas, and choclo. Add squash and potato; stirring to combine. Pour broth over the entire mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in fava beans carefully. Continue to simmer covered until the vegetables are tender, about 15 more minutes. Remove the lid for the final 10 minutes if the mixture has too much liquid.
- Stir in cheese and huacatay before serving. Serve with hot cooked brown or white rice.
- Queso fresco can be substituted for the queso serrano, but you may need to add a bit more salt to the stew.
- The huacatay may be omitted if you don’t have any. You could use a bit of cilantro and mint mixed together for a similar taste.