Mini Cilantro and Chive Arepas

So here's one of the easiest (and tastiest!) recipes I've ever shared.

Have you ever had arepas? These little corn flatbreads are traditional in Venezuela and Colombia, although also found widely throughout much of Latin America. Made simply with masarepa (a pre-cooked white cornmeal flour) and water, they are a wonderful alternative to bread or tortillas. In the US, arepas are regularly found at Latin restaurants and street fairs, where they're often sold split and stuffed with melted cheese.

They are also incredibly easy to make at home--seriously, if you can make pancakes or grilled cheese sandwiches, you've totally got this.

The trickiest part might be finding the masarepa flour. If you have a "Goya aisle" in your supermarket, check if they have it. If not, you can also easily get it online via Amazon.

Then you simply measure out a couple cups of the flour, mix it with hot water, and then let it sit for five minutes.

It'll create a soft almost mashed potato-like dough that's very easy to work with. Shape it into little patties, and fry for a couple minutes on each side in a greased skillet.

That's it!

The patties can then be topped off with your choice of toppings--think pulled meat, scrambled eggs, chorizo, grilled shrimp, cheese, dips, avocados, roasted veggies...basically anything you'd serve on a crostini or a taco would work well here!

If you'd like, you can get creative and add herbs, spices, or grated cheese to the dough in order to flavor it. I added minced chives and cilantro, for a delicious herby twist. 

You can make arepas several days in advance and reheat them as needed--great for parties or for an easy breakfast side-dish. And since they're completely gluten-free, they're a nice alternative to crackers or crostini if you have guests with gluten allergies.

Disclaimer: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. 

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Mini Cilantro and Chive Arepas
Makes about 2 dozen mini arepas

3 cups masarepa (precooked white corn meal)
4 1/2 cups warm water (plus more if necessary)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup minced chives
1/4 cup minced cilantro
Vegetable oil or butter, for cooking (butter is more delicious, for sure!)

In a large bowl, combine the masarepa, water, salt, chives, and cilantro until evenly combined and the dough is thoroughly saturated. If the masarepa seems dry or crumbly, add more water about 1/4 cup at a time, being careful not to add too much (you just want to add water until the dough is workable and doesn't crack). Let sit for 5 minutes and let the dough absorb the water. The texture will be soft, slightly damp and similar to mashed potatoes.

Shape the dough into round patties about 2" in diameter. Heat a skillet or grillpan over medium heat and grease with butter or oil and cook the patties, about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until crispy and with hints of golden brown on both sides. Remove from skillet and place on a wire rack while you continue with rest of dough.

Serve plain with butter, or with your choice of toppings. These can also be cooled and reheated before serving.

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