Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Arepas with Savory Topping

This recipe technically combines three recipes from the June 2008 issue of Cooking Light. Each step takes a little while but they can all be done concurrently. The salsa-type condiment has to refrigerate for 3 hours, so I just started it this morning and left it in the refrigerator until dinner (so more like 9 hours...). But it all comes together nicely and is really yummy. We both really liked it, and it sparked a really lame conversation about the difference between a "make again" and a "worth keeping" recipe. I would label it as a "make again."

Make again. I would also make just the beans and tomato mixtures and use them in tacos or burritos as well; they don't only have to cover the arepas.

arepas

Arepas with Savory Topping
CL June 2008

Venezuelan street vendors stuff thick arepas with rice or eggs. Our recipe creates thin arepas, which are best topped with beans, salsa, and cheese.

In Venezuela, these can be baked as we do here, pan-fried, or grilled, all using the same basic dough. Some arepas are thicker and can be split open; our recipe yields a thinner, slightly crisp arepa that serves as a base for toppings. Even though both arepa flour and Mexican masa harina are precooked corn flours, arepa flour is essential to achieve the correct texture for the corn cakes. Look for arepa flour in Latin markets. Since arepa dough is slightly sticky and wet, plastic wrap makes shaping easier.


6 Arepas
1 1/2 cups Simple Black Beans, reheated
6 tablespoons Avocado Salsa
9 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco

1. Arrange arepas on a platter. Spoon 1/4 cup Simple Black Beans onto each arepa. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon Avocado Salsa and 1 1/2 tablespoons queso fresco.

Arepas
1 cup yellow arepa flour (harina precocida)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups boiling water
Cooking spray

1. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups boiling water; stir with a wooden spoon until well combined and smooth (about 1 minute). Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

2. Scrape dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape dough into a 2-inch-thick disk. Cut dough into 6 equal portions. Working with one dough portion at a time, place dough portion between two sheets of plastic wrap; shape into a ball, and flatten with palm of hand into a 3-inch circle (about 1/2 inch thick); shape edges to smooth.

3. Preheat oven to 350°.

4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add arepas to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until arepa begins to brown and a crust forms. Transfer arepas to a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until arepas sound hollow when lightly tapped.

Simple Black Beans (Caraotas Negras)
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup water
2 (15-ounce) cans 50%-less-sodium black beans, undrained
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper to pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in sugar, garlic, black pepper, and cumin; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup water and beans; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and stir in vinegar.

Avocado Salsa (Guasacaca)
2 cups finely chopped onion
3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper (1 small)
3 tablespoons finely chopped seeded jalapeƱo pepper
3 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups chopped peeled avocado (about 2)
1 1/2 cups chopped seeded plum tomato (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1. Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl; toss mixture gently. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours. Stir in avocado and remaining ingredients just before serving.

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