Causa Vegetariano

Potato Cake with Vegetables and Cheese

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    6

    as an Appetizer

Appears in

You might find it hard to imagine that cold mashed potatoes can be both delicious and beautifully presented; Causa is often served at weddings and other celebrations, proving that it meets both descriptions.

Ají amarillo, the most common Peruvian chile, is known as yellow Peruvian chile in the united States. It delivers moderate heat with fruity, citrusy accents. Look for jars of prepared amarillo chile paste; otherwise, buy either whole dried chiles or jarred water-packed chiles and make an easy homemade paste.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb/910 g Peruvian yellow potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. kosher or fine sea salt
  • ½ cup/120 ml. canola or other neutral oil
  • ¼ cup/60 ml. fresh Key lime or regular lime juice
  • 1 tbsp amarillo chile paste (or store-bought)

Topping

  • 6 to 8 green beans, stem end trimmed and cut into ¼-in/6-mm dice
  • ¼ cup/35 g fresh corn kernels
  • ¼ cup/35 g diced red onion (¼-in/6-mm. dice)
  • ¼ cup/40 g pitted Botija or Kalamata olives, cut into ¼-in/6-mm dice
  • ¼ cup/15 g lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup/40 g diced, seeded Roma tomato (¼-in/6-mm. dice)
  • oz/40 g queso Oaxaca or queso fresco, cut into ¼-in/6-mm dice
  • 1 tbsp. canola or other neutral oil
  • 2 tsp. fresh Key lime or regular lime juice
  • 6 fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish

Method

  1. In a large pot, combine the potatoes with water to cover, cover partially, and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover, add the 1 tbsp. salt, and reduce the heat so the water boils gently. Cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes.
  2. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let cool for 10 minutes. Peel the potatoes. (To make peeling them easier, wear disposable surgical gloves, available at any pharmacy.) Pass the potatoes through a ricer or a food mill into a large bowl. Using a rubber spatula, slowly work in the oil. Add the lime juice, the remaining 1 tsp. salt, and the chile paste. Use the spatula to fold over the potatoes until they are completely smooth and almost like a soft, smooth dough. Cover and refrigerate until cold and firm, about 2 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, make the topping. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and corn and simmer until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water. Let cool for 2 minutes, then drain and blot dry with paper towels.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the green beans, corn, onion, olives, cilantro, tomato, and queso. Stir in the oil and lime juice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Have ready two round presentation molds (see Cook’s Note), each 3 in/7.5 cm. in diameter and 3 in/7.5 cm. deep. Cut parchment paper into two 3-by-12-in/7.5-by-30.5-cm rectangles, and then line each mold with a rectangle. Place each lined mold in the center of a salad plate. For each tower, scoop up cup/165 ml. of the potato and use a spoon to pack it into the bottom of a mold. Smooth the top of the potato, packing it down a bit more to release any air pockets. Repeat to fill the second lined mold the same way. Carefully lift each mold straight up to remove it, and then unwrap the parchment paper from around each tower. Repeat to form four more towers, each on its own salad plate. Spoon an equal amount of the topping on top of each potato tower. Garnish each plate with a cilantro sprig. Serve immediately.

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