Black Bean Arepas with Citrus Slaw

August 22, 2011
3 Ratings
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

I had my first Venezuelan Arepas at a food cart in Portland, OR. I had no idea what I was missing. The minute I had one, I was hooked, and decided that I must teach myself to make them at home.

After a little research, I discovered that the key to successful arepas is the corn flour. It must be pre-cooked. Everyone recommended Harina PAN, so I sent the husband on a little reconnaissance mission and he returned home with the requisite yellow bag. I'm not sure how prolific it is elsewhere in the U.S., but he had no problem finding it at a neighborhood Latin American grocery store.

The original arepas recipe is from Gluten-Free Girl and it's surprisingly easy and foolproof. I made mine vegetarian, but I'm sure they're equally delicious with meat of your choice. —clcatto

What You'll Need
  • For the arepas
  • 2 cups pre-cooked white cornmeal (Harina PAN)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
  • For the black beans and citrus slaw
  • 1-2 cans black beans (don't rinse), or soak your own
  • 1 bay leaf
  • cumin, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, to taste
  • For the citrus slaw:
  • 2-3 cups worth of shredded jicama, green and purple cabbage, and carrots
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  1. For the arepas
  2. Put the warm water, salt and oil into a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Slowly pour in the cornmeal, while mixing with a wooden spoon (you're trying to avoid lumps).
  4. Use a clean hand to mix the ingredients together until the mixture feels moist and grainy. It will become drier as it sits, so don't over-mix. If the mixture is too wet and sticks to your hand, add a little more cornmeal. If it's too dry and starts to crack, add a little more water.
  5. To form the corn cakes, grab a chunk that's a little larger than a golf ball and form it into a ball. Pat it into a flat disc between your hands. It should be about 1/2 inch thick or a little less. If it's too thick, it won't cook all the way through.
  6. To cook the corn cakes, lightly coat a skillet with vegetable or canola oil. Fry the cakes over low to medium heat, taking care not to burn them. Cook each side until it's golden brown. Finish cooking them in a 350 degree oven on a baking sheet - about 15 minutes, until the insides are done (but slightly doughy).
  7. Slice them in half and serve with your filling of choice (see below for mine).
  1. For the black beans and citrus slaw
  2. For the black beans: Add all the ingredients to a medium size saucepan and let simmer over medium heat while preparing the arepas. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
  3. For the citrus slaw: Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, taste, and adjust to your liking.
  4. Once the arepas are ready, split them in half and layer them with black beans and citrus slaw, topped off with a sprinkle of cotija. Serve with a side of tostones (fried plantains).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sagegreen
  • clcatto
  • susan g
    susan g
  • jenmmcd

7 Reviews

Sagegreen August 22, 2011
Your arepas look really great! I love the flavors you have in the filling.
clcatto August 22, 2011
jenmmcd August 22, 2011
These look great! My neighbor is Venezuelan and makes these for us often. He swears you need to cut them about half way open, scrape out a bit of the soft the middle, and top it with butter for an extra treat. Plus, then there's room for the filling. And he serves his with black beans and feta... From the beautiful pic, looks like you did too?
clcatto August 22, 2011
Yes, close - black beans and cotija. Feta sounds good too. I couldn't believe how easy these were. I expected to mess them up the first time, having only ever eaten them once before, but they turned out great.
clcatto August 22, 2011
Thanks! Those are tostones - fried plantains. I winged it with those too, but they turned out great. The trick is using green plantains, frying them a little bit, taking them out and smashing them even thinner before frying until golden. Pretty easy.

I just made my first batch of tomato gazpacho with my garden tomatoes that are finally ripe. Delicious!

I haven't tried it yet, but they say arepas are great just with butter and honey too!
susan G. August 22, 2011
Arepas tonight, filling next time. They're just what I need with watermelon gazpacho. Your photos make me want to sit right down and eat! (and what are those little cookies?)
susan G. August 22, 2011
Very nice! I loved the way they puff up in the oven and the contrast between crisp and creamy. Just put in a little feta. Next time, the whole production, maybe even the plantains too.