One of our big pleasures in the Cusco region is visiting local markets and restaurants and discovering fabulous new foods, ingredients and flavours. Peru is currently undergoing a gastronomic boom with a renewed interest in the incredibly diverse and flavorsome ingredients found throughout the country. The Andes region of Peru is particularly rich and diverse producing some of Peru’s ‘flagship’ products including quinoa, maca and over 300 varieties of native potatoes.
This week we stopped by the Cuchara de Palo restaurant in Pisac to chat with head Chef Leonel Witman Almanza Ccori who agreed to show us how to make a traditional Andean recipe of ‘quinotto’, a type of risotto made with the Andean super-grain quinoa.
Chef Leonel explains that all his dishes are created using local Andean products and ingredients including aji amarillo (a tasty yellow chilli pepper) and grains like quinoa and kiwicha as he wants visitors to the Sacred Valley to be able to taste real Andean food. It’s also the restaurants vision to give back to the local community by buying their produce locally – their greens and veggies come from the Kusi Ñan organic farm project, trout is brought down from the high altitude lakes surrounding Pisac and other produce is delivered fresh from the surrounding highland communities.
Quinoa is currently one of the ‘hottest’ super foods in the world and is also one of the key ingredients in Leonel’s dishes. The word “quinoa” is pronounced “KEEN-wah” and comes from the local Quechua language. It is in fact a seed, is gluten and cholesterol-free, high in protein, has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and was known as the ‘Gold of the Incas’.
So let’s get cooking and try some for ourselves…
- 100g quinoa
- 200g water
- 20g diced red pepper
- 20g shredded spinach
- 15g sliced mushromos
- 10g diced onion
- 10g crushed garlic
- 20g brazil nuts cut into thin slices
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 20g Andean cheese (cheddar or mozzarella will also work well)
- 20g cream
- 3oz whole milk
- Dash of white wine
- Parmesan cheese to garnish
- Salt & pepper
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: Serves 1 adult portion.
- Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Heat oil, garlic and onion in a frying pan until they turn transparent.
- Add the red pepper, mushrooms, spinach, brazil nuts and splash of white wine and cook for two minutes.
- Add the cooked quinoa to the pan and slowly add the milk and cream.
- Add the cheese and mix until it melts into the mixture.
- Season with salt and pepper and top with parmesan cheese.
- Serve with a fresh green salad and enjoy!