Papa a la huancaína means potatoes in the style of Huancayo, a town in Peru’s Andes. One story tells that women from Huancayo prepared this dish for workers that constructed the railroad line from Lima to Huancayo. Served over boiled potatoes on a bed of lettuce, this vegan version has the same ají amarillo and onion aderezo base, while the mixture of oat milk, coconut yogurt, and nutritional yeast (nooch) replace the savory profile in queso fresco. For a hearty combinado, serve with tallarines rojos.
- Place potatoes in a large pot and cover them with 2 inches cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook until they are fork tender, 20–30 minutes. Remove from heat and set potatoes aside to cool.
- For the onion aderezo, in a large skillet, heat vegetable cooking oil over medium heat. Sauté onion, garlic, and ají amarillo. Stir until onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with turmeric, stir for a minute, and then remove from heat.
- In a tall electric blender, puree the onion aderezo with milk and yogurt. Add saltines, mix in nooch, and continue to blend. Season with salt as needed.
- Peel the potatoes and slice them into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Plate potato rounds on bed of lettuce, bathe with huancaína sauce, and top with olives.
Nico Vera is a freelance writer, photographer, and vegan chef from Peru. He has contributed stories about Peru’s food and drink culture to Taste, Fare, Whetstone, Eaten, and New Worlder. A former mathematician, he’s also an accomplished percussionist and long-distance trail runner. On a mission to veganize Peru’s traditional cuisine, he now lives in Portland, Oregon, with his fiancée Alec and their daughter Rio.