It’s an Arepa Party
You are invited to the party of the year! It is not a taco party, a wrap party nor a pizza party. I have been to all of those and as good as they are, is time for a new party: the Arepa Party!
As a great host, I am going to first introduce you to arepas. If you already know what they are, well, my arepas around Latin America info (below) might interest you.
The arepas we are eating today are known to be originally from Venezuela. They are made mainly from white cornmeal, mixed with water and salt. A round ball is formed, then flattened to form a thick disc and later is baked, fried, grilled, boiled or steamed. It is usually cut in half and stuffed with any filling of your choice: cheese, eggs, avocados, meat you name it. It can be served for breakfast, lunch dinner or snack. There are variations depending of the region but the one constant is how delicious they are.
As you can see below, 4 inch diameter balls are formed. I flatten them and prefer to bake them.
The trick to understanding this party is to know these are Venezuelan Arepas. The term arepa is widely used around Latin America and not always refers to the same kind of arepa. For example:
- Dominican arepas are more like a cake. Some people make them smooth and compact others make them more grainy like cornbread. These are more on the sweet side and can be enjoyed as dessert or like my mami prefers them: with a warm cup of milk for breakfast.
- In Colombia the arepa is prepared very similarly like in Venezuela but the discs are much thinner more like a pancake and traditionally not stuffed but topped with cheese and other toppings.
- Other dishes around Latin America very similar to the Venezuelan arepas are: Mexican Gorditas and Salvadorian Pupusas.
For this party we wanted to show how the arepa is a great blank canvas. Its flavor, texture and shape allows you to fill them with just about anything and everything. I have selected three of my latest favorite fillings, not traditional at all, but that hopefully will inspire you to get rolling some arepa balls and make this fun party.
I call this one the “All around the world” Southern black bean dip meets, Mediterranean Feta cheese and is complimented by the spicy Asian flavor of Siracha.
This is my “Katz inspired”. A traditional deli pastrami, joined by its natural best friends onions and mustard.
One of my favorite is what I call “Mama mia”. Basil pesto, mozzarella and tomatoes form a deliziosa Italian filled arepa.
The arepas are usually covered by the other half of the cut discs, like a sandwich, but I left them open face so you can see them better. I hope you get creative, bold and have a great arepa party!
Arepas can also be made as appetizers by making them small and served them with melted cheese or any other dip like I did for Little L’s first birthday party.
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups white cornmeal (also sold as masarepa)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Mix 3 cups lukewarm water and salt in a large bowl. Make sure salt is dissolve and then gradually add 3 cups cornmeal. Add olive oil and use your fingers to mix well.
Once the dough holds its shape without sticking to your fingers then is ready to be formed into balls. Add a bit more water or cornmeal as needed in order to get the dough to the right consistency.
Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Roll with your hands each portion to form 4 inch diameter balls and then flatten them until about 1 inch thick.
You can place then directly in the oven rack and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn them and bake for 15 more minutes at 415 so they get brown and crispy on the outside.