This versatile Peruvian-Inspired Solterito Salad takes its cues from Solterito, a beautiful chilled salad from 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!
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 4th 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.
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 while in Ollantaytambo at a restaurant called Amanto that was basically solterito with very tender pork cheek confit. It rocked my world!
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.
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 You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- 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. I plan to re-shoot the photos eventually, and recommend the baby lima beans.
- 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.
- 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. 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 Lime Dressing
- 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
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.
I specify queso fresco (a semi soft fresh cheese) cubed. Any mild, fresh white cheese (i.e. mozzarella) will work.
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. Pair with a citrusy IPA or crisp sauvignon blanc... Fabuloso!
If you're into "meal prep," and have cooked chicken, it's a great addition that turns this salad into a meal!
We think so! I store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
As I mentioned above, 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 dried fava beans. You could also substitute a different cooked bean. Of course if you can get fresh fava beans, by all means, use them! See How to Cook Fava Beans.
🍷 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!
Make this salad? I cannot promise you a date, but I'm pretty confident you'll enjoy it!
- 2 limes - juice and zest
- 2 tablespoons vinegar - white wine, champagne, sherry
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ½ cup cilantro leaves - chopped
- ½ teaspoon sea salt - to taste
- fresh ground pepper
- 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)
- 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!
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.