Ever since creating my vegan version of Venezuelan Pabellon, I’ve really been enjoying the simple taste of arepas. Made simply with corn flour and water, these toasted breads are so versatile, with the ability to be in both sweet and savory dishes.
These arepas and refried beans were inspired by my vegetarian recipe of Nicaraguan Tostones and Guacamole as, let’s be honest, everything tastes better with guacamole.
You can eat these as a full meal, or use it as a side dish, appetizer, or snack. The best thing is to serve the arepas hot, as once they cool down they can become very hard, and you will need to reheat them with some water sprinkled on top, a bit like what you do with corn tortillas. And of course, you can add as much to these sandwiches as you want, just keep in mind that they are pretty small, so you don’t want to overload them too much.
So, without further ado…let us begin!
For the arepas you will need:
- 2 cups PAN flour (this is the most typical brand, available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2OOrfvk)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 cups water
For the guacamole you will need:
- 4 avocaods
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1/2 cup tomato
- 1 tsp minced jalapeno
- 1 tbsp lime juice
For the pico de gallo you will need:
- 1 diced tomato
- 1/4 cup dice red onion
- 1 tsp diced jalapeno
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
For the refried beans you will need:
- 3 cups cooked beans
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 2 cloves chopped garlic
- a couple tablespoons of walnut or sunflower oil
An optional topping: Queso fresco (which will make this recipe vegetarian and not vegan)
First you want to prepare the pico de gallo so it has time to marinate in the fridge. Chop all vegetables, and add together in a small container. Mix well, and place the container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
For the guacamole, mash the avocado in a bowl or container, then add the rest of the ingredients and stir together. It’s up to you if you want the guacamole to be creamier or chunkier, how lemony or spicy you want it to be. Taste the mix as you go along, so you can add or omit ingredients as you see fit.
For the refried beans, add tablespoon of oil to a pan, and lightly saute the onion and garlic on medium heat. Add in another tablespoon of oil and 2 cups of the beans. With a fork or masher, mash the beans together along with the onions.
After the beans are mashed, add in the 3rd cup of beans, and lightly mash, leaving the beans a bit chunky. Cover the pan, turn the heat down to medium low, and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
As the beans are simmering, you can prepare the arepas. Prepare the arepas according to the package directions for the Pan flour. This is as simple as pouring the water slowly into a large bowl where the corn flour and salt is, then mixing with your hand and kneading until you have a soft dough.
Roll the arepas into 2 inch balls, and flatten to cook. In a large pan, add a bit or oil or spray oil, and cook the arepas on medium heat until they are golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side. Don’t try to hurry the process or heat the pan up more, as you will prevent the insides from cooking and it will still be mushy.
Once the arepas are done cooking, it’s time for plating!
Cut open each arepas, and add a layer of refried beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, and top with queso fresco if you are using it.
Server together with the rest of the guacamole and arepa, and enjoy!
You can also choose to top the entire arepa without cutting it open. This will give it a thicker base and is sometimes easier to eat as it holds the food better.
If you plan on saving them, this dish keeps best when each part of the dish is stored separately. You can then reheat the beans and arepas on their own, while still keeping the guacamole and pico de gallo cold.