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Peruvian Quinoa Stew (Ají de Quinoa)

Peruvian Quinoa Stew (Ají de Quinoa)
Ají de Quinoa is a flavorful Peruvian stew that pairs two iconic Andean ingredients, quinoa and potatoes, in a rich peppery quesillo-based sauce. The sauce is typically made with Peruvian yellow peppers, called ají amarillo. However, since they can be difficult to find outside of Peru, this recipe uses orange bell peppers, a touch of ground cayenne, and turmeric to recreate the color and heat of Peruvian ají amarillo. Nutritionally, Ají de Quinoa is a very complete dish that can stand on its own or with a small green salad for vegetarians. It also makes a great side to Peruvian-style meats like roasted chicken or pan-fried trout.
  1. 1 pound (approximately three medium) yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
  2. 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  3. 1½ cups cold water
  4. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  5. 1 large purple onion, chopped
  6. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  8. 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  9. ½ teaspoon turmeric
  10. ½ cup pecans, chopped
  11. 12 ounces quesillo, cubed
  12. ¼ cup milk
  13. ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
  14. Salt to taste
  1. Boil potatoes until fork tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Bring water and quinoa to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until quinoa is thoroughly cooked (10-15 minutes).
  3. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Sauté onion until tender. Add garlic, bell pepper, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and pecans and continue cooking until peppers are soft. Turn off heat and add quesillo.
  4. Blend the sauté thoroughly with an immersion blender or transfer the mixture to a countertop blender then return to the pot. Add the milk if necessary to assist with the blending. The result should be a thick smooth sauce.
  5. Return the sauce to the soup pot if necessary and incorporate potatoes, quinoa, and parsley to the sauce over low heat. Stir frequently until thoroughly warmed, 2-3 minutes. Season with salt to taste and remove from heat. Serve warm.
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