I can honestly say that adopting a plant-based diet has opened me up to a love of cooking, and to so many new cuisines and styles of cooking. I used to just stick with the same meals over and over again, mostly pasta (because it was fast and easy). Now, I don’t mind spending the extra time in the kitchen to make something healthy, delicious, AND beautiful!
I’ve had arepas before, but I have never made them myself. Arepas are flatbreads that are made out of ground maize dough. I’ve had them with Colombian food, but I found out that they are also a staple in Venezuela – in both countries, they are eaten almost every day! They are actually SUPER EASY to make at home. All you need is a bag of this awsomeness:
I use the white variety, but there is also a yellow version. I found mine in the Spanish section of the Bottom Dollar grocery store. I’ve seen it in the Spanish section of most grocery stores, so it should be pretty easy to find. It’s also only a couple of dollars for a big bag! To make the dough, you mix the masarepa with water and a bit of salt until it sticks together and isn’t flaking apart. It needs to be firm and not too moist.
Let the dough sit for 5 minutes or so while you heat up a pan (I use Earth Balance instead of oil), then break off a bit of dough and create a flat patty. I prefer mine on the thinner, smaller side but some arepas are made much larger. I heat them in the pan until they begin to brown on each side. They aren’t the prettiest, but I top them with all sorts of yummy, so it really doesn’t matter!
As soon as I took these out of the pan (and took the picture), I put a piece of Follow Your Heart mozzarella cheese on top to soften up, then added a scoop of refried beans (make sure you get the vegetarian refried beans – the regular ones contain lard), some tomatoes, red onion, avocado and cilantro. The end product was looked like this:
The coolest thing about these guys is that they are totally customizable – add whatever you are feeling at the moment! I’ve made these for both breakfast and dinner. They are also really easy to eat and would be great at parties!
- 2 cups of Masarepa
- 2 cups of warm water
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ of a block of vegan mozzarella, cut into squares
- ½ can of vegetarian refried beans, heated
- ½ cup diced red onion
- ½ cup diced vine-ripened tomato
- 1 avocado, diced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro for garnish
- Earth Balance to grill arepas
- Following the instructions on the package, make the arepa dough and let it sit for 5 minutes
- Heat a large pan on high heat, adding the Earth Balance
- Form the dough into patties - I make mine a bit smaller, but the size is up to you
- Cook the patties in the pan, turning over once they begin to brown
- Remove patties from pan after they have browned, and immediately add a piece of cheese to each
- Add a scoop of refried beans to each patty, along with a bit of onions, tomatoes, avocado and cilantro
- Serve while still warm!
Don’t be afraid to try new things, new tastes….you never know what you are missing until you step out of your comfort zone and experiment!