Small Plates

By Nico Vera | September 17, 2012

Take the aji amarillo, smoky, with a slow-burning fire that lingers, make it into a paste and blend it with cooked and mashed purple potatoes, add some olive oil, salt and lime juice, and you’ll have a Causa. Likely named after the Quechua word kausay, meaning sustenance or energy, causa is typically served in a casserole with a tuna salad filling or as small timbales topped with savory seafood. This Peruvian potato salad is creamy, cool, spicy, and nourishing, all at once, and a perfect dish to honor the earthiness of the potato, one of Peru’s gifts to the world.

Nico Vera is a Peruvian chef and Pisco mixologist based in San Francisco, California, where he promotes Peruvian food and culture through pop-up dinners and cocktail classes. You can find his recipes and calendar of events on his blog, Pisco Trail.

Peruvian Potato Salad Recipe (Causa)

Servings: 8
Calories: 262 per serving
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes


  • 4 small Yukon Gold potatoes
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp aji amarillo paste
  • 1 5-oz can of albacore tuna in spring water
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 avocado, peeled and cut into slivers
  • fresh dill for garnish


(In addition to the ingredients above, you’ll need a pot to cook the potatoes, a potato ricer, and bowls to mix the ingredients.)

1. Boil the potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover them. Cook until fork tender, 20-30 minutes.
2. Peel and press the potatoes through a ricer and into a bowl.
3. Add 4 tablespoons olive oil, juice of 2 limes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon aji amarillo paste into the bowl, and mix with potatoes to make a purée. The purée should have a creamy consistency that is stiff enough to be shaped. Cover the bowl and chill for 30 minutes.
4. In a separate bowl, mix the tuna, diced onion, and mayo. Add salt to taste if needed.
5. Shape potato purée into timbales and top each serving with a sliver of avocado and a dollop of the tuna mix.
7. Garnish with fresh dill and serve cold.

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