Thursday, March 21, 2013

La arepa...both exotic and gluten-free

I was first introduced to the arepa 11 years ago when I moved to Venezuela. I lived there for a year, and from the time I arrived to the time I left I went from eating 1 of these bad boys a day to eating up to 3 or 4! It's an understatement to say I fell in love.

In the last few years I started making arepas a lot more frequently. When I became allergic to gluten 2 1/2 years ago, the arepa became an easy and safe go-to since it's made from corn flour. And my food-connoisseur of a husband has declared the arepa tasty enough to eat on a weekly basis, so after being married only 2 months I'd say we've had arepas 4 or 5 times for either lunch or dinner.

Where can you buy arepa mix? A local Latin market or even your local grocery store. I was pleasantly surprised to find some at Target!

What ingredients do you need to make an arepa? 
2 1/2 cups filtered water
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups harina P.A.N. arepa mix
1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil

What do you put inside an arepa?
Tuna mixture: tuna w/ chopped onions, tomatoes, and cilantro w/ a little garlic salt, mayo, and lettuce, spinach, or beet greens.
Tuna mixture: tuna w/ chopped kale and purple cabbage w/ a little garlic salt and mayo.
Replace mayo with veganaise, guacamole, or smashed plain avocado.
Organic nut butter and raw honey.
Other sandwich condiments of your choosing—some people love butter and cheese, others love a good ole turkey arepa w/ lettuce, tomato, and pickles.

How do you make an arepa? 
1. Pour water into a bowl and add salt.
2. Pour arepa mix into water and squish and knead together with your hand. (The water soaks in fairly quickly, so it's better to have the dough more wet than dry.)
3. Separate dough and form into 4 balls.
4. Then one at a time gently flatten the balls into your hand to form a patty, similar to forming a hamburger patty.
5. Warm some coconut oil or olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat.
5. Gently place the patties into the frying pan. Flip when golden brown.
6. Remove from heat when both sides are golden and let cool for a few minutes.
7. Using a knife, slice the arepa in half, forming a pocket. Sometimes the arepa separates completely, pulling apart and making it hard to keep it as a pocket, which is fine—it'll be more like a hamburger bun then with a top and a bottom. The dough on the inside of the arepa will be soft and sticky, so just in case you think it's not totally cooked, it is.
8. Add your choice of fillers.

I will always be grateful to Venezuela for introducing me to the deliciously wide-open world of arepas! Let me know what other great combinations you discover to put in your arepa.


Vee said...

I've never heard of these, but they sound delisioso. It sounds like a thick corn tortilla, but must look similar to an english muffin. It should be easy enough to find some of that corn flour around here. I'm glad to see you back on your blog!

Jon and Diana said...

Can you add a way to pin this Pinterest!

Katie Newbold Smith said...

Dee, I think I figured it out. Pin away!

Katie Newbold Smith said...

Yay, Verna's back too! You're right, it's kind of like a cornbread English muffin—a savory cornbread that sticks together better.