Arepas are a popular breakfast dish in Venezuela and Colombia. They are corn cakes made of precooked cornmeal (I like the white variety). I was introduced to arepas by a friend in college. Her father was from Colombia and her mother would frequently make arepas (and wonderful empanadas). We would eat them with carne mechada (shredded beef) and black beans for dinner. Ed grew up eating arepas with cheese, carne and a side of black beans for breakfast – aka Pabellón Criollo, the traditional Venezuelan breakfast. So obviously they are very versatile and good at any time of the day. Ed says that in Venezuelan people basically treat them as bread making all kinds of sandwiches with arepas – ham & cheese, black beans & onions, shredded pork, etc. So, I present to you our breakfast this morning, Arepas con queso. We used a fresh Latin cheese called Guayanés, however, any fresh white cheese (e.g. Farmer’s cheese) will work. I also like them with cheddar & feta but don’t tell Ed – it is heresy!
- 2 cups masa de arepa (masarepa)
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- fresh white cheese
Place the masa in a bowl and mix in the salt. Add the water and stir with your hands until the water is absorbed. Let sit for 5-10 minutes then knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth.
Shape into 2″ to 5″ patties (just depends on how big you’d like your arepas) that are about 1/2-inch thick. Cook in a cast iron skillet on medium-low heat until outsides are crisp and the inside is cooked. This will take 10+ minutes.
Yield: 4 servings
You can also crumble the cheese into the dough (about 1/2 cup) so it melts while you cook the arepas. These are great filled with beef or beans.