Arepas are a traditional, easy dish with origins in Venezuela and Colombia. It is essentially a corn meal pocket that can be made into different sizes and shapes, and can be cooked either by frying, baking, or grilling before being stuffed with your fillings of choice. It is a common meal that is enjoyed for both special occasions as well as with breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner!
Arepas have been made for many, many years, with the first record from indigenous women who would break down the corn by chewing it before shaping and cooking the arepa. In the 1950's, industrialization introduced pre-mixed cornmeal, allowing for this dish to be even easier by just combining a few ingredients (as you see below!). Making arepas can be enjoyed by the whole family, and recipes can be passed down through generations to come!
Check out Zoe's notes on making arepas with her family.
2 cups arepa flour (precooked cornmeal)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Combine arepa flour and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center and add 2 1/2 cups of warm water. Using a wooden spoon, gradually incorporate dry ingredients, stirring until now dry lumps remain. Let rest five minutes to hydrate.
Knead dough a few times in bowl, and then divide into 8 pieces. Roll each piece on a work surface into a ball, then gently flatten to about 1/2" thick.
Both of these steps are great to do with children, just like Zoe and her dad do!
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 4 arepas, cover, and cook until golden brown (about 6-8 minutes). Uncover, flip, and cook uncovered until other side is golden brown (another 6-8 minutes). Transfer arepas to a wire rack and repeat with remaining oil and dough.
Split arepas and stuff with desired fillings- Zoe and her family like cheese, meat, eggs, and avocados!