Arepas: A gluten-free win

Many years ago we lived in a big city in walking distance to a wonderful little arepa place.  We’d never had arepas before and we instantly became addicted.

Arepas a kind of cornbread, round like a small corn pita-bread, crusty on the outside with soft melty cornmeal on the inside.  They hail from several Latin American countries, and the ones we craved are from Venezuela, where they split them in two to make sandwiches.  There’s a particularly addicting arepa sandwich called reina pepiada, which is essentially chicken salad with avocado.  Or a slice of fresh cheese.  Or just butter.  Oh oh oh.

Fast forward many years, and we’ve been unable to find arepas, or rather, we’ve been able to find plenty of Colombian arepas, but none of the Venezuelan kind.  After deciding it probably wasn’t worth trying to get to the 3 yelp-dot diner two hours away in the middle of nowhere, we figured maybe this was something we could make on our own.

So eventually DH got himself a Latin American cookbook.  It’s a bit intimidating… sort of the Joy of Cooking Latin-American style.  An encyclopedia for a continent and a half’s worth of cooking.

Then my mom bought the arepa maker off my amazon wishlist.  And we were in business.

Oh joy.

We haven’t quite mastered the amazing rosemary chicken salad of the big city, but we’ve got the avocado down.  And the arepas are heavenly.  Just as we remembered them.

You don’t actually need an arepa maker to make arepas, you can make them on the stovetop like pupusas or really thick tortillas.  But to get them just like the ones at the restaurant, the arepa maker was necessary.

Here’s an internet recipe.  The internet makes a big deal about using PAN harina, but we’ve been using instant masa instead to no ill effect.

This week in challenge eating :

Quesadillas (we actually had these last week, but pretend we actually did fried rice last week and not this week).


Leek and potato soup– Leeks are out of season, but we got some anyway.  $3 for organic leeks.  <$3 for potatoes.  And some butter.  So $6 for a big pot.

stirfry with the leftover cabbage and other assorted veggies

vegetarian chili– Same as meat chili, but without the meat.

spaghetti with meat sauce

scrambled eggs

7 Responses to “Arepas: A gluten-free win”

  1. Holly@ClubThrifty Says:

    I have never had an arepa but it sounds amazing! I just got back from a trip where I gained an amazing 6 pounds in 8 days so I will be eating lots of veggies and soup this week. I hope it’s just water weight gain =(

  2. Foscavista Says:

    “Arepa maker” – who knew?

  3. Perpetua Says:

    I love arepas! Thank you for the tips!

  4. Tigerlily Says:

    I just made ’em! They sounded so good. I used our Cuisinart “griddler” thing and we filled them with chopped roast turkey, cheddar, cole slaw, avocado, cilantro and sriracha. I received much appreciation from the family. Thanks for this good idea.

  5. Rosa Says:

    We had an amazing Ecuadorian place just down the street that made those arepas, avocado-and-chicken. I loved them so much. But the restaurant coulnd’t really make it as a restaurant (it is on a cursed corner where restaurants last about 2 years – it looks like a good spot but it’s the one corner of that intersection the bus does NOT stop at, and has no parking) and started being out of food all the time because they were mostly surviving as a soccer game bar. I miss them! We have a food truck that does arepas but they are not the same. Maybe they are Colombian.

    Now I want to make arepas but I’m not cooking new things for time reasons for the foreseeable future :(

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