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For Vegan and Vegetarians! “Forgotten” Vegetables 13: Ulluque/Ulluco

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SYNOPSIS:
Organic agriculture and biodiversity have in recent years brought about a rediscovery of many “forgotten” vegetables that people especially in Europe and France conscientiously tried to forget as they reminded them of the privations suffered during WWII. The same people had then to make do with untraditional vegetables because potatoes, carrots and so on were confiscated by occupying forces or their own armies.
With sustainibility and bioagriculture made more important by the deficiencies of modern mass agriculture, those “forgotten” vegetables have suddenly come to the fore for the pleasure of all, and that of course of vegetarians and vegans!

This particular series of postings will introduce these vegetables one by one. I hope they will become useful for a long time to come to all my vegan and vegetarian friends!
1) Scorsonere/Oyster Plant
2)Potimarron
3) Vitelotte
4) Rutabaga
5) Cardon
6) Panais/Parsnips
7) Patisson
8) Topinambour
9) Crosne
10) Cerfeuil Tubereux
11) Poiree
12) Oca

The Ulluque (French), Ulluco (Spanish), or Ullucus tuberosus (Latin) is a plant grown primarily as a root vegetable, secondarily as a leaf vegetable.


Ulluque Tubers

The Ulluque is one of the most widely grown and economically important root crops in the Andean region of South America, second only to the potato. It is known there with the common name of papa lisa, but also by the regional names melloco (Ecuador), olluco (Peru, chugua (Colombia) or ruba (Venezuela). The leaf and the tuberous root are edible, similar to spinach and the potato, respectively. They are known to contain high levels of protein, calcium, and carotene. Papalisa were originally used and discovered by the Incas.

The origin and development of the ullucu in the cold climates of the Andes suggest that it is one of the crops most suited to the complex agro-ecology of areas between 3000 and 4000 m. Although the precise role of hybridization, introgression and mutation in the ullucu is not known, these must have acted—along with natural and human selection pressure—to favour the plant’s distribution and adaptation to the various types of Andean climate and soils.


Ulluque Leaves

Oblong and thinly shaped, they grow to be only a few inches long. Varying in color, papalisa potatoes may be orange/yellow in color with red/pink/purple freckles. In Bolivia, they grow to be very colorful and decorative, though with their sweet and unique flavor they are rarely used for decoration.

The major appeal of the ulluco is its crisp texture which, like the jicama, remains even when cooked. Because of its high water content, the ulloco is not suitable for frying or baking but it can be cooked in many other ways like the potato. In the pickled form, it is added to hot sauces.


Cocido Boyacense (Courtesy of Gastrononia & Cia)

It is a basic ingredient together with the cubio in the typical Colombian dish cocido boyacense. They are generally cut into thin strips.

Oblong and thinly shaped, they grow to be only a few inches long. Varying in color, papalisa potatoes may be orange/yellow in color with red/pink/purple freckles. In Bolivia, they grow to be very colorful and decorative, though with their sweet and unique flavor they are rarely used for decoration.

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