Arepas take two. I’ve been experimenting with this yummy Venezuelan staple food for a while. After a few initial failed attempts, I finally have them down pat. You HAVE TO use pre-cooked white cornmeal (I used the wrong kind of corn flour in an earlier post.) There are several brands of arepa flour out there, but the most common one I’ve seen around is Harina PAN. It can probably be found in the ethnic food section in the grocery store. They’re super easy to make and go well with anything, and can be used in place of pita (if gluten-free is your thing.) I decided to fill them with falafel to make a savory East-meets-West kind of pocket with a Latin twist. Topped with a creamy cashew nut sauce, these little guys were really flavorful!
Baked falafel balls (makes about 9 balls)
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained (about 1 can)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375º. Put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until a thick paste is formed. Roll into 1-inch balls and put onto an oiled baking dish, slightly flattening them. Cook for 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through. They should be crispy and browned.
Arepa pockets (makes about 6)
- 1 cup Harina PAN flour
- 1 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1/2 tsp salt
Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix the flour with your hands until all the water is absorbed. Roll into 2-inch balls and flatten between your palms. Grill until golden brown on both sides (I use a George Foreman grill for convenience.) Allow to cool, then cut a slit halfway through to make a pocket.
Cashew cream sauce (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 cup raw walnuts
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- 1 tbsp cashew butter
- 3 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp vegan butter
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- salt, black pepper, paprika, and a pinch of nutmeg
Process everything up until smooth.
Serve with sliced red cabbage and chopped tomato.