Thursday, June 18, 2009

Recipe: Arepas

Arepas are Venezuelan corn cakes. They are cheap, easy, tasty, and very versatile...and allergy friendly (unless, of course, you can't do corn). This was my first foray into the world of arepas, and I'm definitely going back! Note: The cornmeal used to make arepas is a special, precooked type that usually goes by the name masarepa, or masa precocida. It can often be found in Latino markets. My local grocery store has a decent size Latino section, so I was able to find it there at $1.99 for the bag, which makes 4 recipes - a bargain! The more commonly found masa harina is not the correct type to use for this recipe.

  • 2 C Pre-cooked cornmeal
  • 1 t salt
  • 3 C warm water
  • Olive oil for toasting
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal and salt. Start by pouring in 2 1/2 cups of the warm water and mix with a wooden spoon to form a mass. It should hold together and not be too wet. You may want to add more of the water. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Using wet hands, form balls of dough out of about 1/4 cup of dough and press to form a cake about 3 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick. If the dough cracks at the edges, mix in a little more water and then form the cakes.
  3. Heat the oil in a saute pan or skillet (I used my grill pan) over medium-high heat. Toast the patties, a few at a time, to form a light brown crust on one side, 5-6 minutes. Flip and brown on the other side. Serve immediately. To re-heat leftovers, put them pack in a sauce pan to toast up - otherwise, they will be mushy.
Variations - you've got to add some nutritional value to these, especially fiber and protein...

* Top with scrambled eggs, onions, tomatoes, and peppers for a yummy breakfast!
* Top with shredded, seasoned meat, chicken or pork
* Flavor the dough with onion and/or garlic powder
* If you can do cheese, put 1/2 C shredded cheese into the dough before forming balls
* Flavor the dough with something sweet like sugar or agave and top with fruit for a dessert

I did a vegetarian version: 1 diced onion, 1 diced zucchini, 1 can black beans sauteed in olive oil until soft. Add the juice of 1 lime, 2 T fresh cilantro, 1 T cumin, 2 t salt, 1 t pepper, and a dash of red pepper flakes.
I topped the arepas with this veggie mixture, a dollop of homemade coconut yogurt (recipe coming soon), and more cilantro, and served sauteed peppers and onions on the side.
My husband requested to take the leftovers for lunch...I think we've got a winner here!

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