Peruvian Solterito Salad

This versatile Peruvian-Inspired Solterito Salad takes its cues from Solterito, a beautiful chilled salad that originated in Arequipa, Peru. Giant corn (choclo), fava or lima beans, salty queso fresco, hot rocoto chiles, roasted sweet potato, black olives, red onion, and fresh tomatoes get tossed with a simple lime and cilantro dressing… Delicioso!

A serving bowl of Peruvian solterito salad with serving utensils and cloth napkin.

Something I learned when I was very young: with cooking, it doesn’t matter where you are; you can always cook. You can end up in a small village in Peru where somebody’s cooking, take a spoon and taste it, and you might not be too sure what you’re eating, but you can taste the soul in the food. That’s what is beautiful with food.

~~ Daniel Boulud

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – Recipe Inspiration

Ah, the food of Peru! My love of Peruvian food came in middle age, when my brother married a lovely Peruvian woman who just happens to be an amazing cook. Prior to Josselin’s joining our family, I knew nothing of the cuisine.

Fast forward about 15 years… we just returned from our 5th studies abroad trip to Peru! My notebook is full of wonderful dishes we experienced, and new ingredients we tried. Last week, I posted this Peruvian salad dressing that came out of that notebook after a fantastic lunch at Chicha in Cuzco.

A bowl of soltero de cuchiqara at Amanto in Ollantaytambo, Peru.
Soltero de Cuchiqara – fine cut pork cheek confit, Andean cheese, carrots, haba (broad beans), rocoto, and choclo (corn) with lime and cilantro dressing!

However, this post was originally published in February of 2017… before our first trip to Peru. It’s been a favorite salad ever since, but the post was badly in need of an update.

I had a spin-off of solterito twice in 2022, and and again in 2023 while in Ollantaytambo at a restaurant called Amanto that was basically solterito with very tender pork cheek confit. It rocked my world! It’s the very first dish I order at what has become one of our favorite restaurants in Peru.

After enjoying that dish not once but twice, I decided new photos and a re-write were in order. I did not include the pork cheek, but otherwise, the two dishes are quite similar!

I’d best get back on topic.  😃 What is solterito?

🥗 What is Solterito?

The word “soltero” means “single,” and “solterito” loosely translates to “little single man.” Some say that this traditional Peruvian salad recipe from the Arequipa region is named for singles that are dieting in order to attract a partner. Lol.

Solterito salad at the Pisac Inn in Pisac, Cuzco, Peru...
Solterito salad at the Pisac Inn in Pisac, Cuzco, Peru…

Seriously, though, this dish is full of nutrients and loaded with fiber, and is relatively light compared to many Peruvian dishes. It is a chilled salad, and there are as many “recipes” as there are cooks that make it. Today I bring you my version (one that has the approval of our friends) that is based on Peruvian flavors and made with ingredients that are pretty widely available outside Peru.

Fresh fava beans are nearly impossible to find in the US. I tried dried fava beans (see image at the bottom of the post). I think a better substitute is Lima beans.

Sweet potatoes are an important ingredient in Peruvian cooking, and I have included roasted sweet potatoes in my version. I also opted to dress my Peruvian salad with lime juice and cilantro. I have had very simple vinaigrettes without lime juice and cilantro, and we think their addition “kicks it up a notch!” This is a versatile recipe, so feel free to change it up to suit your tastes and availability of ingredients.

📋 Ingredients Notes

Solterito Salad

  • corn – Choclo (aka Peruvian corn or Cuzco corn) is a very large kernel field corn from the Andes. It is not a sweet corn. In Peru, choclo is served as an accompaniment with dishes like ceviche. I use Goya Giant White Corn  in this salad. If you can’t find it, you can substitute hominy (preferably dried and reconstituted), but keep in mind the flavor and texture will be good but different. You can substitute posole (hominy), sweet corn, or omit it entirely.
  • beans – Fresh fava beans are extremely popular and widely available in Peru. They’re amazing. Unfortunately, they’re not widely available in the US. When I originally published this recipe, I used dried fava beans. They were just “okay.” I far prefer frozen baby lima beans. When I shot the new photos, I used the baby lima beans. If you are fortunate enough to find fresh fava beans, see How to Cook Fava Beans for more information.
  • sweet potato
  • olive oil
  • tomatoes – I like tiny tomatoes cut in half lengthwise. The choice is yours.
  • onion – Peruvians LOVE red onions, and I usually use red onion. A sweet onion is fine too. I usually take the time to soak my thin-sliced onions in a bowl of salted ice water as in my salsa criolla.
  • peppers – Rocoto peppers are typical, and if I have them, I use them. NOTE: Rocoto peppers are hot! Fresno chiles are my preferred substitute. If you want to avoid the heat, substitute roasted red bell pepper. Alternatively, you can use jalapeños or serranos.
  • black olives – I love black Peruvian olives while in Peru, but I have not been impressed with the brands I’ve found in the US. They tend to be soft. I use pitted kalamata olives.
  • cheese – Queso fresco is my first choice for this Peruvian salad. I love the fresh cheese in Peru, and this comes closest IMHO. Feta would be a good substitute.
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • cilantro

Cilantro Lime Dressing

  • limes – Please use fresh-squeezed lime juice.
  • vinegar – I prefer a smooth, mild vinegar like sherry vinegar, champagne vinegar, or white wine vinegar. Red wine vinegar is fine as well.
  • olive oil
  • cilantro leaves
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
A black ceramic bowl with solterito arequipeño and wooden salad utensils.

❓ FAQ

Is solterito good leftover?

We think so! I keep it for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

What can I substitute for fava beans?

As I mentioned in the Ingredients Notes, we didn’t love the dried fava beans. I do, however love lima beans. Have you seen my Peruvian lima bean salad? Substitute cooked lima beans for the fava beans. You could substitute a different bean, or omit them entirely. Of course if you can get fresh fava beans, use them! See How to Cook Fava Beans.

💭 Tips

I buy dried giant corn, and cook it in less time with my Instant Pot. The corn needs to soak overnight or you can do a quick soak by boiling 2 minutes and soaking an hour prior to cooking. Cooking in the Instant Pot requires an hour, while stove top requires 90 minutes to 2 hours.

If you can find it, Goya has frozen Peruvian giant corn kernels, and they’re a great time saver. Their texture is less chewy than the dried corn.

The rocoto peppers are hot, and not always easy to find. You can substitute Spanish piquillo peppers, or roasted red bell peppers. I have also used Goya frozen rocoto or ají amarillo peppers.

We have turned this tasty salad into a main dish by adding Gulf shrimp marinated in aji amarillo chile paste and lime juice, skewered, and grilled.

If you’re into “meal prep,” and have cooked chicken, it’s a great addition that turns this salad into a meal!

🍷 Pairing Suggestions

This Peruvian salad includes both veggies and carbs, so all you really need to go with it is a protein. Try this Latin mango chicken or this Peruvian roasted chicken. On photo day, I did a simple grilled salmon portion with a rocoto marmalade glaze. I picked up the marmalade at a fantastic coffee shop in Cuzco earlier this month!

Uncertain about a beverage pairing? Try pairing with a citrusy IPA or crisp sauvignon blanc… Fabuloso!

Giant Corn Peruvian Salad with wood salad tongs and print napkin.
Pairing suggestion: On photo day, I served a grilled salmon portion
glazed with rocoto marmalade…

Make this salad? I cannot promise you a date, but I’m pretty confident you’ll enjoy it!

Looking for more Peruvian-inspired dishes? Try my Peruvian Chicken and Rice (Arroz con Pollo), or Peruvian Chicken and Cilantro Soup… If hearty, healthy salads with global flair are your thing, hop on over to Little Ferraro Kitchen for this Lebanese tabbouleh salad. It’s fantastic!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.

Giant Corn Peruvian Salad Solterito

Solterito Salad

This Salad takes its cues from Solterito, a beautiful chilled salad from Arequipa, Peru. Giant corn (choclo), fava or lima beans, salty queso fresco, Peruvian ají peppers, roasted sweet potato, black olives, red onion, and fresh tomatoes get tossed with a simple lime and cilantro dressing… Delicioso!
4.84 from 6 votes

Click to rate!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Salad/Side Dish/Lunch, Salads
Cuisine Peruvian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 269 kcal

Ingredients
  

Dressing

  • 2 limes - juice and zest
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar - white wine, champagne, sherry
  • cup olive oil
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves - chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt - to taste
  • fresh ground pepper

Peruvian Salad

  • 1 cup giant corn/choclo - cooked (see notes below)
  • 1 cup fresh cooked fava beans - cooked (see notes below)
  • 10 ounces sweet and/or regular potatoes - peeled and cubed
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 12 tiny tomatoes - halved lengthwise
  • ½ cup red or sweet onion - chopped
  • 1 rocoto peppers - minced (see notes below)
  • 12 pitted black olives - sliced lengthwise
  • 1 cup queso fresco or mozzarella
  • sea salt/fresh ground pepper - to taste
  • cilantro - chopped (to garnish)

Instructions

  • Prepare giant corn by package instructions. It should be tender but firm with a bit of "bite" to it. See Tips above for more information!
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the cubed potato and sweet potato with a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and browned on the edges – about 25 minutes.
  • Add dressing ingredients to a blender, and pulse until smooth.
  • When the corn, beans, and potatoes are cooked and cooled, add to an appropriately sized salad bowl.
  • Add the tomatoes, onion, peppers, olives, and cheese. Toss with the dressing.
  • Check for seasoning. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Notes

I don’t have any trouble finding giant corn locally. If you can’t find them, hominy is a decent substitute. Start with dried or frozen. The canned product will be too soft.
Lima beans (fresh or dried) would be a great substitute for the fava beans. Just make sure to start with tender (not soft) cooked beans.
Rocoto peppers are hot! They are so flavorful, but proceed cautiously. Start by dicing one – or even half of one. You can add more if desired.
If you can get pitted Peruvian black olives, by all means use them! Kalamatas make a great substitute.
As I mentioned, we have taken this dish as a side dish to a party, but we have also enjoyed it as a main dish with the addition of grilled shrimp. Grilled chicken would be a great option as well.

Nutrition

Serving: 8Servings | Calories: 269kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 19g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com
A close up of solterito in a white ceramic bowl with a wood spoon and print napkin.
Original 2017 photo… The solterito was delicious, but I prefer Lima beans to cooked dried fava beans!

Share this post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

10 Comments

  1. I had fresh fava beans from my organic farm co-op and had no idea what to do with them. Then I found your recipe and got to work. I made a few substitutions: frozen corn instead of the “big corn”, flat parsley instead of cilantro, regular black olives, no cheese, plus I had just run out of onions. Despite the substitutions and omissions…it was DELICIOUS! I thought the dressing was going to be too strong with the lime zest and juice, but it was perfect! The roasted sweet potatoes (I used orange) were such a nice contrast to the zesty lime. I told my friend about it and the mere description of it made her mouth water : )

  2. Not sure why they call it “little bachelors”, and I’m skeptical that it has to do with finding a date (although that could actually be why they call it that). Anyway, this is a great recipe for a great dish that deserves to be more widely known.

  3. Found it! I am for sure going to try your version, which is radically different than mine. I was able to get dried fava/broad beans, but have not yet found the dried chocla corn. Rubens maybe? Any suggesions for local sources? Love the inclusion of sweet potatoes. This sounds really good. Thanks for letting me know you’d posted this recipe.

    1. Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for stopping by 🙂 Yes, I get most of my Peruvian pantry items from Rubens. I believe the dried giant corn is marked “mote pelado.” (If my memory serves me correctly). I’ve used it in a couple of my recipes, and I lave the texture and earthy flavor. It’s quite different from Mexican posole/hominy…

  4. OMG, I am so jealous – an entire month? How absolutely lovely. We went about 2 years ago now and loved Cuzco, Sacred Valley, Machu Pichu, and Lima. The food in Lima was arguably some of the best. Email me if you want a few tips on some restaurants. Anyhow, I am in love with your food selections. Interesting and worldly. Well done.

    1. Thanks Cindy! I am a fan of interesting and worldly 🙂 I think my unusual recipes have been a bit of a handicap, but I have to cook and write what I love! I would love some recommendation on restaurants. We will only have 1 or 2 nights in Lima, with the rest of the time spent in smaller cities. My husband is teaching a 3 week course on alpine ecosystems of the Andes. I will try to remember to email!