Beans and Pasta

A Vegetarian in Chile: Part 6 Porotos con Riendas

So after my unfortunate encounter with meat the other day, I’m gladly sharing with you another chapter from the Vegetarian in Chile series. This week we’ve been having a taste of Concepción’s infamous rainy winters. And I don’t know about you, but when the weather turns cold and miserable, I turn to hot and hearty comfort food.

Beans and Pasta

There is absolutely no way you can go wrong with this combination. Just don’t forget to cook it

Porotos con Riendas is the ultimate meal for winter comfort. It will knock you out for the count. Do not expect to eat this and then be able to do much after. It is advisable not to eat Porotos con Riendas if you need to drive or operate heavy machinery. Think thick vegetable soup packed full of hearty beans and…wait for it…spaghetti! So if you’re struggling to pick between pasta and soup to warm the belly (this is actually a major challenge for me – first world problems), then look no further.

Porotos con Riendas cooked

You don’t want too much pasta. It’s called Porotos con Riendas, not Reindas con Porotos.

Any sort of white bean should do for this recipe, like navy bean or cannelloni. They have different types here in Chile, we picked some dried beans up from the market the other day. They had about 5 or 6 different kinds of white bean alone!


  • 3 cups dried white beans, soaked for at least 6 hours or overnight
  • Some spaghetti, about a quarter of a packet. I used spinach flavoured spaghetti because that’s all we had in the house, but good old white pasta will do.
  • Half an onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced or crushed
  • 1 cup pumpkin, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • Handful of red capsicum just for the colour, roughly chopped
  • Tablespoon oregano
  • Teaspoon cumin
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • About a tablespoon of olive oil, butter, manteca (lard) – what ever flavour you prefer (I used butter and olive oil!) – for frying
  • Salt and pepper


Sautee the onion and the garlic in the olive oil/ butter/ manteca in a large pot over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Add the spices, pumpkin and capsicum and continue to fry for a few more minutes to release all those flavours. Drain the beans and add them to the pot, stirring through. Add the stock cube and enough boiling water to cover the beans by about 2 cm. Cook over low heat with the lid on until the beans and pumpkin are soft, then add the spaghetti. Continue to cook until the pasta is al dente and serve hot.


A Vegetarian in Chile: Part 5 Guizo de Acelga

As promised, albeit a couple of days late, the next recipe in the series, A Vegetarian in Chile. We all know that winter is coming, and Guizo de Acelga, a.k.a Silverbeet Stew, is the perfect go to food for warding off the cold. It’s also quick and dead easy to make, using inexpensive ingredients that you can come by most of the year.

This one is basically a variation on Guizo de Zapallo Italiano, but there are a few differences which make this dish extra delicious (I’ll give you a hint: It’s cream).

I’ve chosen to serve the guizo with Papas Doradas (the greatest fried potatoes you’ll ever eat), but Chilean-style Rice is also a great accompaniment. Go ahead and click on the above link to Guizo de Zapallo Italiano for details on how to make either of these sides.

ingredientsThere quite a few variations on how to make a guizo out of this leafy green vegetable. I’m sure my Chilean friends have their own delicious and unique versions, and I’d LOVE to hear your tips, guys 🙂

Traditionally Guizo de Acelga is made with mince meat, but these days it’s not uncommon to find it without, so here is the meat-free version for your vegetarian enjoyment.

guizo de acelga con papas duradas


  • 1 small brown onion, finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • A bunch of silverbeet, washed, stalks removed and roughly chopped
  • 3 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2 tablespoons of cream
  • 1 vegetable stock cube, dissolved in a bit of hot water – just a few tablespoons so the quizo doesn’t get to liquidy.
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


If serving with one (or both) of the sides mentioned above, start first as these take longer to cook than the guizo.

Heat the oil in a large pot and sautee the onion and garlic on medium heat until the onion is translucent. Add the carrot, silverbeet and stock and cook on low heat with the lid on until the silverbeet has completely wilted. You may need to stir periodically and add small amounts of water if sticking to the bottom. Add the cream and eggs and stir through until heated. Season to taste and serve with your chosen accompaniment.

chickpeas merquén

A Vegetarian in Chile: Part 4 Chilean-style Chickpeas

It’s been a while since my last post. To make up for it, I’m planing to share 2 recipes with you guys this weekend as part of my “Vegetarian in Chile” series.

The first one is Chilean-style chickpeas. This actually has a sister dish, Chilean-style lentils, which is essentially the same thing, just swap out one legume for the other. Usually, the lentil version is served with a fried egg on top, and the chickpea version comes with longaniza, a type of chorizo from the south of Chile. For the purpose of this series, I’ll keep it vegan and leave out the longaniza.

ingredients raw

This dish is basically a staple in my house. It’s quick, easy, you can make tonnes at a time to store the leftovers, and you only need one pot, which in theory, should minimize the amount of washing up (this doesn’t work in practice in my house. For some reason washing up increases exponentially from when I cook for one person to when I cook for two. To me, this seems to defy the laws of physics; shouldn’t the overall increase in dishes only amount to an extra bowl and a spoon? Does this phenomenon affect anyone else? Or is it just me? Explanation would be greatly appreciated).

flavour chilean chickpeas

I buy all my legumes dry and in bulk at the local feria from a lovely caballero (in Chile, this is the term for a gentleman or an alternative to señor). He sells the beans of the season, which are so soft, you barely have to soak them before hand, and when you cook them they are as smooth and creamy as mash potato. I usually soak a HUGE amount of chickpeas the night before I make this dish. If you don’t like to plan that far in advance, go ahead and use the tinned kind, works just as well.

This is a simple dish, traditionally just made with carrot and pumpkin. However you can get creative and add a little silverbeet for a bit of green or anything else you think will go well.

So without further ado, here you have the base recipe to play with:


  • Half a kilo of dried chickpeas, rinsed, soaked over night and drained. Remember you can use lentils as well
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, pressed or chopped*
  • 100g each of carrot and pumpkin chopped into small pieces
  • 3 or so small handfuls of rice, I used medium grain white, but you can use brown too
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Olive oil

chickpeas on stove


Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Sautee the garlic and onion over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent. Add the carrot, pumpkin, chickpeas, rice, stock and spices and stir through. Add enough boiling water to cover the mixture by about a 1cm. Cook on low heat with the lid on until the rice is cooked and the chickpeas are soft. If all the water has been absorbed before the rice and chickpeas are done, you can add a little more, just keep in mind not to let it get soupy.

chickpeas merquén

Served with as sprinkle of merquén on top for an extra kick

*I read a really interesting article called “the best way to mince garlic” on how the method of preparation affects the flavour of garlic. I like to crush the clove with the back of my knife a bit and then finely chop it. This results in a much subtler, smoother garlic flavour compared with crushing the clove using a garlic press.


Next to bread, pebre is basically a staple here in Chile.  It’s rare that a restaurant doesn’t serve up a complimentary bread and pebre as an appetiser. Seriously, though, watch out for this. I always fall into the trap of eating too much before my food comes because this combo is dangerously delicious and we all know that food tastes better when it’s free, ammiright?

Once again, all my fresh ingredients, came from the local street market

Once again, all my fresh ingredients, came from the local street market

Pebre is a kind of tomato salsa. I associate it with summer time, because of the juicy fresh red tomatoes you can find at this time of year. It’s something I refer to a fair bit in this blog so I thought it would be nice to share this recipe with you. Pebre is great for nibblies, as a side dish, or for an afternoon snack with a beer or michelada (Chilean beer cocktail).

Sorry for the bad photo - it was night time.

Sorry for the bad photo – it was night time!

Prepare pebre close to the time you want to serve it. It will not keep longer than 1 day due to the tomatoes.


  • 300g tomato, finely diced
  • 50g brown onion, finely diced
  • 50g banana chili (those long yellowy green ones that aren’t too spicy), finely diced with seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Handful coriander, finely chopped
  • Tablespoon olive oil
  • Tablespoon vinegar
  • Pinch of salt and pepper


Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl. Serve fresh with white bread and butter. See I told you it was easy.

A Vegetarian in Chile: Part 3 Guizo de Zapallo Italiano

I am obsessed with food waste. To the point of ridiculousness. I am that person that cuts off the mouldy part at the expense of my health because I would rather increase my risk of cancer and damage to my liver, kidneys and immune system than throw that floppy fennel in the bin. Because I buy my fruit and veg in bulk, I’m often faced with a fridge half full of veggies on the brink of going off. Most of the time I manage to use them up in some burst of creative, albeit not always wonderful, piece of cookery. However there is one vegetable with which I always seem to draw a blank:


Did you know that zucchini can grow up to 1 metre long?

Did you know that zucchini can grow up to 1 metre long?

I don’t know why but I am somewhat uninspired by zucchini recipes. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against the vegetable, in fact I find the texture of a nicely steamed zucchini rather pleasant. I just can’t get passed the sensation of boredom that overcomes me when faced with yet another recipe for zucchini pasta sauce or chargrilled veggies. Do you have this problem? Or am I just weird? Anyway, short story long, thanks to my wonderful Chilean colleagues who never fail to cook up a feast when we are working in the field, I have found a great way to utilise those sorry squashes going soggy at the back of the veggie crisper.

Enter: Guizo de Zapallo Italiano (Zucchini Stew – Chilean Style!)P1060223

This a great recipe because the guizo itself is relatively easy to make, with little prep time, and can be served with a simple rice. To spice things up a bit, we prepared some Chilean style rice and fried potatoes as accompaniments (shown below).


For the sides

  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • Small amount of carrot (2 tbs or so), grated or finely chopped
  • 8 small potatoes, washed, with skin
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Merquén

For the guizo

  • 1.5kg zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • Half a brown onion, finely sliced
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • A handful of green capsicum, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Tsp vegetable stock powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese to serve (optional)


For the sides

If you are making the Chilean style rice and potatoes, start these off first.

Boil potatoes until just cooked. Place in cold water until cool enough to handle, then peel off skin. Sautee garlic and carrot in oil in a small or medium saucepan until garlic is cooked. Add rice and a generous pinch of salt and stir to fully coat the rice in oil. Add boiling water until it is about 1 cm above the top of the rice. Cover and cook over low heat, without stirring, until all the water is absorbed.

For the guizo

Sautee onion, garlic, capsicum and carrot in oil in a large pot until onion is translucent. Add zucchini and stock powder and cook over low heat with the lid off. Don’t add more water as the zucchini releases a lot. Meanwhile, cut the peeled potatoes into bite-sized cubes. Fry in a small amount of butter and oil until crispy on the outside. Sprinkle with merquén and salt to taste. When zucchini is quite soft, add eggs one at a time, stirring through guizo between additions. Cook for a further minute to allow egg to cook and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the potatoes and rice and sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired.P1060226

A Vegetarian in Chile: Part 2 Charquican con Huevo

An age old piece of Chilean advice for women who want fuller hips is “comer zapallo detrás de la puerta”  meaning “eat pumpkin behind the door”. Although this probably works, the method is a little introverted, so in an effort to include more pumpkin in one’s diet and still eat at the table, Charquican, serves this purpose equally well.


Charquican is a type of Chilean pumpkin and potato stew which is also popular in other Andean regions such as in Bolivia and Argentina. Although traditionally made with llama meat or beef, it’s not uncommon to find a vego version of this classic dish served with a fried egg on top.

You can find Charquican in restaurants all year round, but the ingredients vary depending on the season. Pumpkin, potato, onion and carrot are the basis of the dish because they store well throughout the year. At la feria this week we picked up some gorgeous fresh green peas in their pods (arvejas) and some cheap sweet corn. These ingredients are usually found in a summer Charquican due to their availability.

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So without further ado, here is a recipe for vegetarian Charquican con Huevo


The weights given here are just a guide to give you an idea of the proportion of each ingredient in a Charquican. Add too much of one ingredient and it will take over the flavour of the dish. Having said that, there’s no need to be totally accurate with the weights, just make sure that potato makes up the majority, and don’t add too much pumpkin because of its strong flavour.


  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed/ chopped (Fun Fact: In Spanish they’re called “dientes” meaning teeth!)
  • 60g carrot, chopped
  • 500g potatoes, peeled and diced into smallish cubes
  • 60g pumpkin, diced into smallish cubes
  • 40g red capsicum, chopped
  • 100g peas, podded
  • 80g corn kernels (you want about the same size portion of corn as peas)
  • Water, boiled
  • 1 stock cube
  • Tsp cumin
  • Heaped tsp dried oregano
  • Olive oil
  • Merquén (Chilean spice blend) and salt to taste
  • Fried eggs


Sautee onion, garlic and spices in olive oil until onion is translucent. Stir through pumpkin, potato and carrot. Add stock and water until veggies are just covered. It’s important not to add too much water here or the end result will be too runny.* Bring to the boil and then simmer on low heat, covered, until pumpkin is dissolved.

Add green peas and corn and continue to simmer until these are just cooked. Stir vigorously to mash pumpkin and some of the potato through the Charquican. Season with salt to taste.

Serve with a fried egg on top and sprinkle with merquén. This recipe serves 4 (or 3 hungry people).

*NOTE: You can add more or less water in this step depending on your personal preference. I like mine a little runnier, but José likes his the consistency of thick mashed potato. Each to their own.

A Vegetarian in Chile: Part 1 Porotos Granados

Travelling as a vegetarian can be challenging, especially when you don’t have a house and you’re moving around a lot. “Good luck finding vegetarian food in a restaurant in South America” they told me. “You’re gonna have to start eating meat again” they warned. And they had a point. It was tough, the first few weeks. I pretty much lived off cheese empanadas (a kind of Chilean pastry which is AMAZING but definitely not good for your waistline). I even broke vegetarianism one time at an “asado” (BBQ) because the only options were meat, sausage, meat empanadas, bread with meat, or alcohol.

But now I’m settled into an apartment, ready to start up my daily routine and get cooking! I’m on a quest to find all the traditional Chilean meatless dishes out there, try them, make them, and share them with you here.

P1060163 P1060161

First up, I’m going to write about Porotos Granados. This was actually the first meal I had in Chile, home made by my boyfriend’s mum. This dish is popular in summer, because you can get all the ingredients fresh and cheap at “La Feria”. Ferias are a type of regular street market where you can buy local fruit and veg, fish, eggs, spices and dried goods. They happen all over Chile, from the smallest towns, were the producers themselves come to sell their goods, to the capital. Shopping at the market is a great way to support small, local producers, avoid buying from huge supermarket conglomerates, and best of all, finding top quality food at a great price.

P1060180 P1060178

I love this dish because it is nutritious and delicious, made with the freshest seasonal goodies summer can offer! However, there is quite a bit of prep work, so does need to be planned ahead of time.


  • 2kg porotos granados in pods (known as cranberry beans in English)
  • 2 cobs of fresh corn, grated
  • 200g ish of pumpkin cut into small cubes
  • 1 tomato, chopped (optional)
  • Medium sized brown onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped finely
  • 1 green chilli, chopped finely
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 handful of fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • Vegetable stock cube
  • Olive oil


Remove porotos from pods. In a large pot, sauté onion, garlic, chilli and oregano in oil over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add pumpkin and porotos, stir through and then add boiling water until mixture is just covered. Stir through stock and leave covered to simmer over low heat for about 1 hour.

Add tomato. (This step is optional because the dish is not always made with tomato but I personally like the slight acidity it brings to the overall flavour.) After 10 minutes add corn and basil. Stir continuously for 5 minutes to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pot. The consistency should be something between thick soup and mashed potato. Serve hot!