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Peruvian stuffed peppers is a dish which is the pride and joy of Arequipa, the white city, Peru’s second largest behind Lima. Locally known as Rocoto Relleno, it makes a hearty meal when served with scalloped potatoes. Eating it is like being transported to Arequipa for the duration of your meal!
No ground meat or rice used here. The filling includes diced pork and beef, hard-boiled eggs, salad onion and peanuts, all deliciously flavored with various spices. The signature piece of queso fresco (fresh white cheese) tops the filling. With the “lid” of the pepper protecting the filling inside, it is then baked in the oven to deliver a satisfying meal, full of flavor.
We discovered this dish at a cooking school we attended in Arequipa. It is always a pleasure to attend a cooking school and we were not going to miss the opportunity to make Rocoto Rellena.
The Peruvian Cooking Experience at Casa de Avila
When traveling we often attend cooking schools to not only widen our knowledge and obtain some insider tips but also because it is just good fun. And cooking schools, when on overseas trips are often (ok always) cheaper than where we live.
The Peruvian Cooking Experience is held at the Casa de Avila, a hotel conveniently located only four blocks away from the magnificent main square of Arequipa (Plaza de Armas), considered the second most beautiful square in Latin America. It was also the hotel where we stayed while in Arequipa.
The cooking school is “open air” (it is covered though) and held in the hotel’s courtyard away from the main road. It is a very pleasant outlook. On our session there were 7 people, the class is open to anyone not just hotel guests. In addition to the cooking school, there were options to:
- Tour the local market, where you buy the ingredients; and
- Pisco Sour class, where you make and then enjoy the national drink of Peru (and Chile).
Cost of the cooking class was 60 soles ($18) per head. And the optional extras were both 15 soles ($4). Unless it is happy hour, it costs you more than that to buy a Pisco Sour at a bar!
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We highly recommend all options. The market visit was fascinating and you will see some unusual sights and ingredients! The market tour starts at 10am. The cooking class starts at 11am. The Pisco Sour class is mid-afternoon, whenever you finish lunch.
The cooking class was well organized. Methods were well explained and demonstrated by the class leader. You work in teams to create three dishes. We made a salad as well as the Peruvian Stuffed Peppers and Scalloped Potatoes.
It takes the better part of 2 to 3 hours to prepare all of the meals, cook and then to sit down together and enjoy the fruits of your labor. It was a fun day and there was time to talk with your fellow chefs. I thought it was well-paced and no one was made to feel out of place.
We even had a friendly visit from the hotel tortoise during preparations!
The Peruvian stuffed peppers and scalloped potatoes are designed to be eaten together and this is the traditional pairing in Arequipa. It was a deeply satisfying meal, quite rich. For me the take-aways were:
- how much better stuffed peppers are when you use diced meat rather than ground meat;
- how good they were with the addition of peanuts, hard boiled eggs and the cheese; and
- how delightful the spicing and flavoring was.
If you are going to Arequipa, I would highly recommend the Peruvian Cooking Experience.
This was not the first time we have enjoyed a cooking class. We also enjoyed a fabulous experience at two cooking classes in Vietnam.
Peruvian Stuffed Peppers
So without further ado, here is our version of Peruvian stuffed peppers. Note in respect to the Peruvian Cooking Experience, this is my interpretation of their recipe. I have changed out some of the ingredients.
In addition to the peanuts and hard boiled eggs, another unusual ingredient is the evaporated milk, an ingredient Peruvians adore! Note that between the Peruvian stuffed peppers and the Scalloped Potatoes, you will use one can of evaporated milk.
Don’t be concerned if you can’t source queso fresco. As you can see from the photograph, I used normal cheddar cheese. You could also try feta.
If you are looking for more information about Peruvian food and travel, then you might also enjoy:
- The Best of Books, Cookbooks and Movies about Peru
- How to Make a Pisco Sour and What You Need to Know about Pisco
- Secrets of the Sacred Valley
- Peruvian Ceviche How to Make This Classic at Home
- In the Footsteps of the Incas: The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
- Peru’s Most Popular Dish How to Make Lomo Saltado
- Do You Know What Makes Lake Titicaca So Special?
- The Best Peruvian Scalloped Potatoes Recipe Ever
- An Introduction to the Highlights of Amazing Arequipa
Other Stuffed Vegetable Recipes
In addition to these authentic Peruvian stuffed peppers, we feature some other stuffed vegetable recipes on Compass and Fork. They’re a great way to increase any child’s vegetable intake. As well, what great winter warmer comfort foods they make.
In Eastern Europe, authentic cabbage rolls are everywhere. Our version showcases Bulgarian cuisine.
The combination of eggplant and lamb mince is perfect in these Turkish Stuffed Eggplants. Once you have cooked them, you will keep returning to this great Turkish recipe, a good one for a dinner party.
Looking for an appetizer? Try these baked stuffed zucchini flowers (or squash blossoms)? A great dish to impress your family and friends.
|Servings||Prep Time||Cook Time|
- 4 bell peppers (capsicums), red
- 4 cups boiling water
- 2 tbsp raw sugar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, salad (red) finely diced
- 1 tbsp garlic finely diced
- 2 tbsp pepper paste or tomato taste
- 2 tsp salt, ground sea
- 2 tsp black pepper, ground
- 1 tbsp cumin, ground
- 1/2 lb stewing beef cut into small dice
- 1/2 lb stewing pork cut into small dice
- 1 cup beef broth optional, only if meat mixture looks dry
- 4 ozs peanuts roasted and then roughly ground
- 2 eggs hard boiled, chopped
- 4 slices cheese Queso fresca if you can source it
- 2 eggs whole
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- Cut the tops off the bell peppers but retain for a "lid". Scrape out the seeds and ribs. Boil the bell peppers in the water and sugar for about 8 minutes until tender. Remove from the water and allow to cool.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 c (180 c).
- Prepare an "ahogado" in a pan. Heat the olive oil over a medium heat, add the onion, garlic and cook for 1 minute. Then add the pepper paste, salt, pepper and cumin. Allow to cook for about 3 minutes stirring occasionally. Then add the beef and pork and cook for 5 minutes or until meat is well browned, stirring occasionally. If mixture dries out add some beef broth. Add the ground peanuts and chopped hard-boiled egg. Cook for a further 5 minutes, then allow to cool.
- When the cooked peppers and the meat mixture are cool enough to handle, fill the peppers with the mixture. Put the peppers in a greased baking dish. Place a slice of cheese on each pepper, then place the "lid" back on top of the peppers.
- In a bowl, beat one of the eggs, the evaporated milk. Pour over the peppers. Then beat another egg until very thick and brush over the peppers, using all of the egg.
- Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Serve with scalloped potatoes.
Vicky @ Avocado Pesto
I also took a cooking class in Arequipa but a different one — we learned to make lomo saltado and ceviche! Loved Arequipa and Peru though — was there backpacking with my boyfriend for 5 weeks, such a magical country!!
Aagh Peru. Lomo Saltado and Ceviche are 2 of our favorites. Real classics. I think fusion cooking started in Peru before that term was even coined. I’m glad the post brought back some memories for you.
I love taking cooking classes on my vacations too. I find food to be one of the best ways to experience a new culture. Stuffed peppers are one of those easy to prepare yet satisfying dishes. I never had Peruvian food before, so i am eager to try this delicious recipe.
Shawn, I just read that food is now considered the main reason why people travel to destinations. I love the peanuts in Peruvian stuffed peppers. Thanks for your comment.
Amanda | Chew Town
We do the same thing when we are travelling – I always make use we go to a local cooking class. Stuffed pepper are a staple in our house, but usually an Italian version. I love this version with Peruvian flavours – I’ll have to try it.
Amanda, stuffed peppers have so many local variations. They are extremely popular in Turkey as well. I like that impressive stature of them. Thanks for your comment.
Mrs Minty Cream
I have never made stuff peppers before but I think you just gave me an idea on how and why I should do it soon! Looks yummy!
Stuffed peppers are also a great way of getting your kids to eat vegetables. Thanks for your comment.
Meghan | Fox and Briar
Wow, what an unusual stuffed pepper recipe! It looks delicious! Peru looks beautiful, I would love to go someday.
Meghan, it is certainly a diverse country in terms of it’s geography. We certainly enjoyed it! Thanks for your comment.
Those stuffed peppers are fantastic! I like them in every form they’re served but this one is new to me!
Thanks for sharing
Simon, Yes, we have stuffed peppers a lot usually with rice and/or minced meat or some combo. These are really hearty! Give them a try, I hope you enjoy them!
I always put rice or quinoa in my stuffed peppers – it never occurred to me to use more meat to make a heartier meal!
Kit, Yes I think more meat and then the satay like sauce are part of what make these so different!
Love the visiting tortoise!!
Some of my favorite ingredients – queso blanco, peppers … mmmmm
Noel. They are actually quite good to have in Peru as the pepper has quite a kick to it, the red bell pepper we use as a substitute don’t quite pack the same heat!
Holly @ 3 Yummy Tummies
This cooking class sounds like such a cool experience. I envy all of your travels! I love how these peppers have peanuts added for a unique recipe.
It was a great cooking class and the peanuts in the stuffed peppers are a master stroke. Thanks for your comments.
Amanda | The Cinnamon Scrolls
These sound so delicious! Your story was lovely as well — thank you for sharing your experience with us. I’ve always wanted to take a foreign cooking class, so your review was wonderful to read.
Amanda, a cooking class is just a relaxed and enjoyable experience. We do them whenever we can now. Thanks for your comment.
These peppers are gorgeous! I love the addition of peanuts. They sound fabulous. I have some bell peppers in the fridge. I pinned to try this soon 🙂
Good for you Lucy, I hope you enjoy them. Thanks for your comment.
These look absolutely delicious! I’ve never been a fan of traditional stuffed peppers, but these sound so much better!
Yes good to see it is not just rice and ground meat. The peanuts give it an almost satay taste. Thanks for your comment.
Love the sound of these – gotta try soon! One question – where do you get the pepper paste? Thanks!!
The (Turkish) pepper paste is a similar concept to tomato paste. Not sure where you live but in Australia you can find it in better delicatessens that specialize in European cuisine. You can buy it through Amazon. This is an affiliate link (we receive commission) but same price to you that Amazon charges anyone. Thanks for your comment.
What a fabulous and tasty dish, I really have to make some stuffed peppers as I’ve never made them!
Camilla they are easy. And they can look rather impressive. So many different versions too. Thanks for your comment.
Annie @ Annie's Noms
I love stuffed peppers, but sometimes find myself getting stuck in a rut with fillings. I need to try these, they look so delicious!
Hi Annie. Not a bad idea to try these for a change. I love the addition of the boiled egg and the peanuts. It’s almost a satay taste. Thanks for your comment.
Kathryn @ Family Food on the Table
What a fun recipe to try! I love stuffed peppers and I love the sound of this Peruvian version – all those flavors together! How very cool that you did a cooking class while traveling. I’ve done some at home and in cities here in the U.S., but never abroad. What a great idea and a great way to really get to know the culture. 🙂
Kathryn we love cooking classes. I have never attended a bad one. They have all been fun. I like the peanuts in this dish as there is a mild satay-like taste. Thanks for your comment.
LOVE stuffed peppers! Make them all the time! Can’t wait to try this version – they look tasty 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Tasty indeed Sarah. They are hard to beat and popular with the family. Thanks for your comment.