Meet my arepas!
Arepas are one of our current favorite "quick fix" meals. We learned about arepas on Food Network, and shortly thereafter realized there was a place in our own backyard (figuratively speaking) serving up Venezuelan style arepas: Pica Pica at the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa. Pica Pica is now one of our go-to after-church lunch spots.
Arepas are kind of like a South American white corn pancake, and they vary depending on the country of origin. Venezuelan arepas, for example, are more like pita bread, in that they are split open and stuffed with delicious goodies. Colombian arepas are more like an actual pancake, and are topped with yummy treats.
One of my favorite dishes at Pica Pica is the Pernil Arepa (arepa stuffed with roasted pork, tomato, avocado and garlic aioli), so I decided to try to create my own version of this dish at home.
I adapted my recipe from these two recipes from food.com:
Let's start with the aioli, shall we? I used sun-dried tomatoes in the aioli pictured.
Lethal Garlic Aioli
- 3-4 cloves minced garlic (add more or less, depending on how "lethal" you want the aioli to be)
- Sun-dried tomatoes OR chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped, to taste (optional, but highly recommended)
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups fruity olive oil
- 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
In a food processor, puree garlic with egg (add sun-dried tomatoes or chipotle peppers in this step, if you are using them). Mix olive oil with lemon or lime juice in a pouring jar. With the food processor running, start adding oil mixture to food processor VERY SLOWLY. I cannot stress this enough. Add your oil in small little drops at first to ensure the emulsion "takes." Once you notice the mixture becoming creamy, you can increase the pouring rate to a very thin stream. Your arm will probably feel like it's going to fall off -- it won't, I promise. Once you have incorporated all of the oil mixture, add salt and whirl the food processor for an additional 10 seconds. Taste the aioli and add additional salt as needed.
Transfer aioli to a storage container and put in the fridge to chill. We like to keep this on hand for just about any food application....try slathering this aioli over grilled corn, topped with freshly grated parmesan and chopped parsley. So good!!
While the aioli is chilling in the fridge, it's time to make arepas!
1 cup instant masa (made with white corn), or white corn flour
1 cup grated mozzarella (but you could use any cheese you have on-hand)
1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh or canned corn kernels (drained, if using canned corn)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 vegetable oil
Toss all ingredients, except for the vegetable oil, together in a bowl, and stir until water is incorporated. Let stand for about 1-2 minutes. Knead lightly until it becomes a soft dough. I did not have any corn kernels on-hand when I took these pictures, so just pretend there is fresh corn in the dough below.
Divide dough into fourths, and roll each segment into a ball. Flatten each dough ball between your palms, pressing the edges gently to eliminate cracks.
Heat oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Fry each arepa, turning once, until golden brown on each side (about 2-4 minutes per side)
Drain on paper towels.
Now it's time to dress our arepas. We're big eaters in the Logue house, so Brian and I usually attempt to eat two arepas each, but I recommend serving one arepa per person, and accompanying it with a light salad.
Here's what we used:
- Sliced avocado
- Pre-cooked Carnitas from Costco (seriously, this stuff is the best for quick meals! But if you prefer to make your own, I have a great recipe for fall-apart braised pork)
- Lethal garlic aioli
- Cotija cheese
- Chopped red onion
Start by spreading a layer of aioli on each arepa, and topping with avocado slices.
Then add a pile of pulled pork, another dollop of aioli, and red onions. Finish the dish with cotija cheese (and honestly, if you don't have cotija on-hand, this dish still tastes great without it...or you could use another cheese that you DO have on-hand, like parmesan).