I was first introduced to arepas years ago through a friend, and since then I have tricked him (read: begged him until he agreed) into making them for me on a regular basis. Colombian food (or at least what I’ve been lucky enough to try) is the ultimate comfort food. Simple and flavorful, healthy (ish) and satisfying. The ingredient list is always short and sweet, but somehow everything always comes out tasting like someone slaved away in a kitchen for hours perfecting the final product. These Black Bean Feta Arepas were my first attempt at making these tasty cornmeal flour cakes myself, and I am pretty. pleased. to discover that they are basically the easiest things in the world to make.
In the past when my friend made them, he always stuffed them full of this absolutely amazing and absolutely unhealthy chicken-and-mayo mixture. I’m telling you, this stuff was to die for. However, lately I have been trying really hard to cut back a little on my meat intake (have you read The China Study? It makes such a compelling argument for a plant-based diet) and so I threw together this tasty black bean and feta filling.
The trick to making perfect arepas (as I learned while frantically texting the arepa expert every five seconds during the arepa-making process) is making sure there is enough moisture – but not too much, or else they’ll have a gummy texture. I used a 1:1 ratio of pre-cooked corn meal and water, and added about a tablespoon of vegetable oil. You’ll know the dough is moist enough when you flatten the rounds and the edges don’t crack.
The other thing to be aware of is you’ve got to add enough salt to the dough. Don’t be shy. The rest of this recipe is fairly low-sodium, so you’re not completely instigating a coronary. Without adequate salt, your arepas will taste flat and sad – and a flat, sad arepa is no arepa at all.