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Looking for a variation on French potato classics like Scalloped Potatoes or even Potatoes au Gratin? Today we look to the home of the potato for some inspiration. Peruvians know a thing or two about potatoes so why not prepare them Peruvian-style?
Easy to make and hearty. Who doesn’t like oven-baked potatoes, like these Peruvian scalloped potatoes.
As well, we have a short take on the history of the potato and how the Incas employed agricultural techniques in the Andes to provide not only this vegetable year-round but many others as well. The agricultural methods of the Inca’s were ingenious and were a major reason the Inca empire became the largest in the Americas.
The Potato – Peru’s Greatest Export?
It’s no secret that Peru is the home to the potato. Maybe you are also aware quinoa is another ancient Inca food which has become extremely popular world-wide in the last decade or so.
Another food we should thank the Incas (and Mayans) for, the humble tomato. And then there was corn, squash, I could go on. Has any other country given more food to the world than Peru?
The point is that the Incas were ingenious in developing agricultural methods for the domestication of wild fruits, vegetables and grains, that could be grown and stored for year-round consumption.
It sounds easy enough if you are blessed with these wild foods and have arable land to develop and harvest them. But that was not the case for the Incas. Much of the territory controlled by the Inca empire was either in the Andean altiplano (extremely dry with little or no water) or in the rugged, very high altitude Andes themselves.
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The Incas were masters at developing methods for growing crops, particularly in the Andes mountains themselves. They were also brilliant strategists to grow and maintain their extraordinary empire.
Like the Romans, they developed a network of roads or trails (camini). This allowed the empire, the center of which was Cusco in modern-day Peru, to quickly transfer messages, via a series of couriers (a bit like a long-distance relay) from outer-lying lands to Cusco.
A happy population is a well-fed population and the Incas were smart enough to realize food needed to be freely available to the general populace. And the food was shared. Not only could the Incas grow crops in the most unlikely of places they developed methods to preserve vegetables and fruits when in season and then stored them in a network of storerooms along the camini.
For example, potatoes could also be grown on the altiplano where it is hot during the day and below freezing at night. To preserve them, the picked potatoes were squeezed to remove moisture and then left out in the sun where they dried out. They remained outside overnight where they basically froze.
They could then be stored for later use. Is this the original freeze-dried method? And they were smart. The Incas decreed potatoes could not be peeled. They did not want to create a litter problem and they knew all of the nutrients were just under the skin!
When walking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu you see large tracts of land put aside by the Incas for agriculture. You can see them miles in the distance and they are massive in scale in the most remote and rugged settings. We were lucky enough to walk through some of these fields as well as to observe the network of store rooms developed by the Incas. It is incredibly impressive given the landscape, the remarkable terracing and age of the fields. It was no wonder the Inca empire was so powerful.
But that’s enough of history, what about potatoes today in modern Peru?
Peruvian Scalloped Potatoes
There are some 4,000 varieties of potatoes in Peru. All different shapes and colors. They are still grown in the Andes at a high altitude of between 11,500 – 13,800 feet (3,500 – 4,200 meters).
In the markets potatoes are everywhere and still form an important part of the diet of Peruvians. Peruvians love baking them with cheese, evaporated milk and/or eggs.
Peruvian Scalloped potatoes are popular as they cook more quickly and it is easy to add other ingredients to the baking dish to add a bit of luxury and heartiness.
Here is our take on Peruvian scalloped potatoes. It is an easy recipe to make and there is a richness to the dish making them filling. They go perfectly with Stuffed Rocoto (Peppers) which we will be featuring shortly. Subscribe to the newsletter below or on the sidebar to never miss an update.
If you are looking for more information about Peruvian food and travel, 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?
|Servings||Prep Time||Cook Time|
- butter for greasing
- 3 potatoes thinly sliced
- 1 onions, salad (red) thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 3 slices cheese large slices (gruyere or provolone work well)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp oregano, dried
- 2 tsp salt, ground sea
- 2 tsp black pepper, ground
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- Pre-heat oven to 350 f (180 c). Grease a small casserole or Pyrex dish with some butter.
- Arrange two layers of potato, a layer of onion, some garlic and a large slice of cheese. Repeat two more times. Place a further layer of potatoes on top. In a bowl beat the eggs until well combined. Add the oregano, salt, pepper and evaporated milk. Stir and then pour over the potatoes.
- Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown. Allow to stand for at least 5 minutes before serving.
What kind of cheese would you recommend for this dish? Thank you!
Angelica, any good melting cheese works. Try gruyere for a richer flavor or provolone for something a little lighter.
Provel is a great choice if it is sold near you. Provel is a combination of Swiss, Cheddar and Provalone. It melts easily and has a buttery texture when melted (it doesn’t get stringy like most cheeses).
Marisa Franca @ All Our Way
Scalloped potatoes are my family’s favorite!! Thank you for the information. I hadn’t really pondered the whereabouts of potatoes but I did know where quinoa came from. Thank you for your variation of the recipe — I’ll have to make it for my family.
Marisa, Hope the family enjoys it! Thanks for reading and commenting.
I never realised how many foods come from Peru! These potatoes look great, I can’t wait to cook them!
Yes Peru has quite a food heritage. The range of potatoes at the market is extensive. Thanks for your comment.
Whitney @ That Square Plate
I think I have ALL of this in my pantry — I’ve got to try this recipe soon! I can’t believe how many varieties of potatoes exist in Peru — they’ve gotta know what they’re doing. Pinning and making very soon! 🙂
Enjoy it Whitney. They are very moorish. And thanks for your comment.
Cheese and potatoes are two of my favorite things. I am sold! And I loved the photos of Peru – it’s on my bucket list!
Kit, Peru was incredibly diverse. The potato culture is huge and yes they love cooking them with evaporated milk. Thanks for your comment.
Kelly @ TastingPage
4000 varieties of potatoes in Peru – wow! Love the unique tweaks this recipe has like red onions and eggs. Look forward to trying.
The red onions do give it some color don’t they? I hope you enjoy them. Thanks for your comment.
I’d definitely like to give these a try – I’d have to have them without cheese but from the other ingredients listed – I think they might just work. I will admit I didn’t know about Peru’s link to potatoes!
Yes a lot of people associate potatoes with Ireland, but they got there because the Spanish brought the potato back to Europe after colonizing Peru and they spread from there. So fascinating. Thanks for your comment
Tracy | Baking Mischief
These look delicious! I love scalloped potatoes, but I’ve never tried them with red onions and eggs. It sounds like a great combo!
Tracy, Give it a try, I think you will like them. They are great served with these Stuffed Red Peppers https://www.compassandfork.com/recipe/peruvian-stuffed-peppers-direct-from-arequipa/
Jamie | The Kitchenarium
Love scalloped potatoes. I am going to have to use a salad onion the next time I make them. I love the color it adds. Great story about the first use of freeze drying the potatoes 😉
Jamie, I agree the purple onion is a nice touch for the color. And as for the freeze drying it is just amazing the stuff you learn, might come in handy for trivia some time!
I like how you put the recipe and the story together!
Thanks for reading and commenting. We try and share what we learn about the food and culture. Some of it is really interesting!
This is a potato dish I know we will enjoy 🙂 great history info! I really want to read more about Inca civilization!
Farida, The Inca’s are amazing. Some of what they achieved is just fascinating. You can find some books about Peru and the Inca’s in https://www.compassandfork.com/the-best-of-books-cookbooks-and-movies-about-peru/. Turn Right at Machu Picchu is an entertaining read with a lot of history in it.
The potatoes look very delicious. A nice mix of flavors. All your photos looks beautiful. Love it.
Revathi, thanks for your kind comments. It is a good mix of flavors and so easy!
Great history lesson. I love scalloped potatoes and would definitely give these a try.
I never cease to be amazed how smart the Incas were. And they must have been to dominate for such a long period of time. Thanks for your comment.
David @ Cooking Chat
Interesting info about Peru’s contributions to what we eat today! Tasty recipe, too.
David, yes quite a contribution from Peru. Thanks for your comment.
Wow Thank you for that history class, It’s very interesting to know how people used to cultivate and preserve food. I think we can learn a thing or two from them. And this recipe as you said is quite easy it should fit into my weeknight dinners. Thanks for the great post it was a wonderful read.
Thank you so much for your kind comments. I do find the history of food culture fascinating. And yes, we could learn a thing or two from earlier generations and cultures. Enjoy the potatoes.
Emma @ Supper in the Suburbs
Oh wow! I can see why these are popular that list of ingredients sounds heavenly! I’ve been leaning so much about Peru in your posts I’ve got the travel bug now! I must visit!!
Yes Emma we like to combine food and travel. Peru is a wonderful place with many highlights for a tourist. Thanks for your comment.
I’ve gotta give this a try the evaporated milk idea intrigues me, sounds fab!
I know, evaporated milk is incredibly popular in Peru. Thanks for your comment.
Tara | Deliciously Declassified
These potatoes look delicious! It’s the perfect side dish to so many meals.
Your right there Tara. Goes well with anything else that may be cooked in the oven. Thanks for your comment.
AiPing | Curious Nut
I’ve never had anything Peruvian before. I’m inspired to try this.
Peru is the home of the potato…and quinoa…and tomatoes. A great food heritage. Thanks for your comment.
Scalloped potatoes are my FAVORITE! I love the twists you’ve added – compared to my family’s recipe. Can’t wait to try!!
Sarah, it is the twists that make this dish. The Peruvians do cook them well. Thanks for your comment.
I absolutely love Scalloped potatoes. My mom used to make them all the time when we were kids. It is a dish that I haven’t ventured into making too much though ~ but your recipe looks so fantastic, I’m going to have to try it.
Love your photos of Peru. Peru is definitely on my bucket-list of places to visit.
Linda, you will love Peru, get down there! And scalloped potatoes, who doesn’t like them? Thanks for your comment.
Natasha @ Salt and Lavender
This looks great! I love your photos too.
Yes easy and tasty. Thanks for your kind comments.