Arepas: Cheap, Filling, Easy Comfort Food

Gluten-Free Girl posted complete instructions for arepas a few months ago. This was the first I’d heard of them, but they’re South American corn cakes. They’re super-easy to make, very filling, and very cheap.

How to Make Arepas

For complete instructions, see the GFG post with pictures. Here’s a quick rundown:

2 cups harina P.A.N. or masarepa (not masa harina)
1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups lukewarm water

Mix the oil, water, and salt, then add the harina and work it with one hand until the lumps are smoothed out. Roll the dough into balls about the size of a baseball, then flatten into ½ inch disks.

Place the arepas on a hot griddle and cook over medium heat for about ten minutes (or until browned). Flip them and cook another ten minutes or so.

Slide the pan into a 325 degree oven and bake 20-25 minutes, or until they make a hollow sound when thumped and the insides are slightly doughy.

To reheat later, wrap them in a paper towel and microwave 15-30 seconds.

How to Serve Arepas

Arepas can be served in a variety of ways. They’re traditionally stuffed with cheese. I served them as a side with butter or covered in guacamole. I’ve filled them with blackberry jam for breakfast, too. I imagine they’d be delicious filled with ham and cheese for lunch.

Basically, anything you can think to do with them, they’ll fill in well.

Average Cost

I found a two-pound bag of Harina P.A.N. (a brand name from Venezuela) on the Latin American aisle of Food for Less for $2.17. You can also find it in Latin American grocery stores. I’ve made two batches and used about two-thirds of the bag, so I think you can make three batches per two-pound bag. That works out to about 72 cents per batch.

Each batch makes 4-6, depending on how big you make them. Mine are about 4 inches across and half an inch thick. Assuming 5, the total cost per arepa is 14.4 cents. That’s pretty darn cheap.

Arepas are my new favorite food. I plan to eat them year-round, but am especially looking forward to warm arepas on a crisp fall morning.

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