An ancient recipe, arepas have been around South American since pre-Columbian times. They make a hearty base for whatever you want to top them with. In this recipe, we mixed beans and corn and nutritional yeast to add up to a wonderfully-filling vegan canape. If you have never tried nutritional yeast, you should give it a shot. It has a complex flavor reminiscent of a wheaty-cheese, and a powdery texture. You will get raves from this dish from all your friends, but your vegan friends will really thank you.
Arepas use a special flour called masarepa, found in most Latin markets. Do not confuse it with masa harina, which is for making tortillas. Make sure to buy the right one.
Dotting your serving platter with orchids gives it an exotic bent. Get stems of orchids, and break off the individual flowers right before plating. They will last the night just sitting on the platter.
I created a bunch of recipes for hosting a Latin canape party. See the other recipes at this link to create an entire menu.
MAKES ABOUT 50 MINI AREPAS
MAKE THE BEANS
1 CUP black beans (dry)
1 tsp salt
1 TB olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Cover beans with at least 3 inches of cool water, soak overnight. Choose a bowl that will accommodate expansion. When ready to cook, drain and rinse. Place in a big pot with lots of water and gently boil for 1.5 to 2 hrs. Add salt after 1 hr. (Make sure there is enough water in the pot, if you need to add water use boiling or very hot.) When beans are soft, drain. Mash beans with olive oil and garlic. Refrigerate.
MAKE THE CREAMY CORN
4 ears of corn
1 small white onion, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1 TB vegenaise
1 tsp salt
Boil ears of corn for 15 to 20 min. Drain water, let cool. Remove kernels from cob with a sharp knife. Place in bowl and toss with other ingredients. Refrigerate till ready to create the arepas.
COOK THE AREPAS
2 CUPS masarepa flour
3 CUPS warm water (plus more if necessary)
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne, optional
In large bowl, combine flour, water, and salt—and cayenne, if you want them to be spicy. (If the mixture seems dry add a little water.) Let mixture sit for 10 min to allow the dough to absorb all the water.
Heat a skillet over medium heat, add oil. Using a large wooden spoon, add a half spoonful of dough to the pan, spread out, flatten. Each arepa should be about 2 – 3 inches. Cook 2 to 3 min on each side, until crispy and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack, or sheet of aluminum foil.
ASSEMBLE THE AREPAS
black bean mash
cilantro, cut into thin ribbons
Spread a thin coating of black bean paste over the tops of arepas. Top with corn mixture. Sprinkle yeast. Garnish with ribbons of cilantro.