Corn and Quinoa Salad with Salsa Aguacate

We’re leaving the Peruvian coasts and traveling upwards. Inland to the east, the land immediately rises into the Andes Mountains, where a more diverse array of crops could be grown, among them avocados and chili peppers.  Travel even higher, and you encounter the pseudo-grains, most prolifically quinoa, which was grown together with maize in the same field.

So I put all those ingredients in a salad. This quinoa and corn was actually purchased in Cusco, Peru.

For Salad:
1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 cup dent corn (hard field corn)
1 bunch spring onions or scallions, whites included

For Salsa
1 Avocado
3-4 dried chilies (pictured serranos and habeneros)

To make the quinoa, combine with 1 cup  of water and bring to a heavy boil.  Stir, cover with lid, and turn down to lowest possible flame, or just a pilot.  Quinoa should be tender but with a little al dente bite left in it. About 20 minutes.

The corn takes much longer. Boil on high for 3-4 hours until cooked through. It won’t ever be soft and juicy like sweet corn, but it shouldn’t be crunchy either.  Feel free to substitute regular frozen corn if you’re not interested in cooking or can’t obtain hard corn.

Combine ingredients warm with the onions. Season with salt.

To make the salsa, remove the stems from your chilis cut them into smaller pieces. In a mortar and pestel, grind into a coarse powder, then add a few tablespoons of water to make it into a paste.  Add the avocado and mash in, then slowly add 1/2-1 cup of water and some salt to get to desired consistency.

You may want to wet your finger and test your chili powder before mixing in the rest.  If unbearably spicy, remove some to tone it down, but keep in mind that the avocado will cool everything down a bit.

If you want to leave Ancient Andean territory and turn this into modern Peruvian cuisine, add some sour cream to make this an even more complex and delicious salsa.

Add about 1 cup of the salsa to the quinoa salad, combine and adjust seasoning.  Top with extra salsa if desired and voila.

A nice side dish to go with some roast alpaca or cuy (that’s guinea pig).

Perhaps I’ll try making that one, ah… next time.

Grilled”Anchovies” and Roots (Simple Andean Supper )

A very simple recipe to kick off our month of ancient Andean recipes.  This invented meal is composed of some of the kinds of ingredients the Norte Chico, first civilization of South America on the coasts of Peru, might have had available for a hearty supper.

20180222_144414.jpgPotato, Sweet Potato, Edo, and corn (not yet cooked)

The people living at Norte Chico in modern Peru got most of their direct food from the ocean, but they also traded that surplus of marine life for a very diverse rest of the diet. Up in the mid and highlands of the Andes, all kinds of foods were being cultivated and domesticated.

There are so many unique roots to South America that I just can’t get my hands on, but I’ve got some domestic versions of some of the main ones.  Potato, sweet potato, and any other starchy root like Cassava, Malanga, or Edo.

Large dice the potato, sweet potato, and other roots.  You will have to par-cook the corn at least half way if using raw, or just substitute frozen corn and it will cook up nicely with the roots.  Put them on top of some herbs or green onions, with a dried chili and some pumpkin or squash seeds. Season with salt.

The ancient Andeans didn’t have pots to boil their food in. It was usually roasted, either in earth ovens or over open fires.  Since my Earth oven was under 2 feet of snow when this meal was made, I used my own home oven, at 300F for 2 hours

And now for the star of the show.

There is some debate just how much, but there is no question the Norte Chico got a lot of their daily calories from the sea, notably from anchovies.  I don’t have access to fresh anchovies or my favorite, sardines, where I live, but my supermarket at least carries smelts. They make for a decent approximation.

My Earth Oven may be frozen, but I can still light some coals in my grill.  You can grill them if you want, but a little more authentic might be to just toss them right on the coals. Only a minute or two on each side, until they’re lightly charred and cooked through.

The flesh will simply pull off the central bone when they are done. Grill and serve fresh, on top of the roots once they’re full cooked.


HOF Episode 5: Un Otro Mundo (Andean Civilization)

Sumer was the oldest urban civilization, but not by much.  Second place followed quickly, and incredibly was across the ocean in South America.

People on the coast of modern Peru kickstarted a multi-millennium wave of Andean civilization, passing down a legacy of culture, religion, and cuisine all the way down to the Incas, and do so with methods that will turn everything anthropologists thought they knew about civilization on its head.

We’ve neglected the Andeans thus far, but no longer. It’s time to take a closer look.

Please leave a review to help spread the word!

Continue reading “HOF Episode 5: Un Otro Mundo (Andean Civilization)”