This vegetarian sandwich will satisfy even the most dubious meat lover. Arepas are griddle corn cakes that are made with a specially processed cornmeal called masarepa. They taste something like a cross between Southern-style grits and a hush puppy, as they are creamy and soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. (They would probably quiet a barking dog just as well as a hush puppy!)
Arepas are important in both Colombian and Venezuelan cuisine, and come in many different varieties. Areepas are often split and stuffed with different fillings, creating "sandwiches" with unique names such as the Venezuelan reina pepiada.Arepas are quick and easy to make, and are best enjoyed while still warm. (Keep arepas warm in a low temperature oven, loosely covered with foil, until ready to serve).
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4-6 arepa sandwiches
- 1/2 recipe Venezuelan-style arepas (to make 4-6 arepas, depending on size)
- 1 small sweet potato
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 cup cooked black beans (canned are fine)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small tomato
- 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3-4 scallions
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- Salt and pepper to taste
- creamy aji amarillo sauce, salsa de aji picante (Colombian spicy salsa), or sour cream for serving
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel the sweet potato and cut in 1/2 inch cubes. Toss the sweet potato cubes with 1/3 tablespoon olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar. Place the sweet potato cubes on a square of aluminum foil, and fold the sides over to form a sealed, square packet. Place sweet potato in the oven and bake until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Prepare arepa dough according to directions and set aside, covered with plastic wrap.
- Place one tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté the minced garlic in the olive oil until golden and fragrant. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until very wilted - 2-4 minutes. Season spinach with garlic salt to taste. Remove spinach from skillet and set aside in a bowl.
- Dice the tomato, and chop the white and green parts of the green onions. Add another tablespoon olive oil to the same skillet and place over medium heat. Add the chopped tomato, green onions, cumin, and chile powder. Cook, stirring, for several minutes until fragrant and soft. Add beans and 1/2 cup vegetable broth and continue to cook, stirring often, until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Add lime juice. Season beans with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the beans in a separate bowl, and wipe the skillet clean. Oil the skillet lightly with vegetable oil.
- Shape the arepas into round, flat patties about 1/2 inch thick and 3-4 inches in diameter, adding more water to the dough if mixture seems too dry and the edges of the arepas are cracking. (see basic arepa recipe for directions).
- Heat the skillet over medium low heat, and cook the arepas, in batches if necessary, until lightly browned and crispy on both sides (about 4-5 minutes per side over low-medium heat). Place arepas on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven to keep warm. dding more water to the dough if mixture seems too dry and arepas are cracking.
- Toss the sweet potatoes, bean mixture, and spinach together lightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Split the arepas in half, without cutting all the way across. Fill each arepa with some of the vegetable mixture. Serve sandwiches with creamy aji amarillo sauce, salsa de aji picante (Colombian spicy salsa) or sour cream. Serve warm.