Vegetarian Arepas with Avocado and Plantains

September 16, 2014
2 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 35 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Makes 6 to 8 arepas
Author Notes

I had my first arepa from a cart at Bonnaroo, and after 4 days of subsisting on trail mix and only sort of showering, I thought the corn cake was transcendental. Away from music festival land, I am pleased to say these dudes still totally deliver.

**A note on flour: Pre-cooked corn flour is what works the best here, to achieve the level of fluffiness that's ideal for an arepa. If regular corn flour is all you can find, use it! The result will be heavier and cakier than the alternative, but still great; just stack the ingredients on top, as this type will crumble if you try to slit it open. ** —Kendra Vaculin

What You'll Need
  • For the arepas:
  • 2 cups masarepa, P.A.N. harina blanca, or any other pre-cooked corn meal or corn flour. (See note above.)
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 Pinch of salt
  • 3 cups Vegetable oil for frying
  • For the fillings:
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 plantains, either cut into rounds or cut into half width-wise and then into 1⁄4-inch strips
  • 1 splash More vegetable oil
  • 1 ripe avocado, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced (I like yellow but you do you)
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded, cored, and finely diced
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Mix arepa ingredients until combined. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes to incorporate.
  2. While dough is resting, make the plantains, beans, and guacamole. Heat a very small layer of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Fry the plantains, sprinkling one side with a little salt, until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
  3. Dump out all but a tiny bit of the frying oil. Mix in the beans, cumin, garlic, and salt and pepper, and heat through. Then remove mixture from pan.
  4. Mash guacamole ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. Alternatively, blend them together in a blender, substituting 2 tablespoons white vinegar for the lime juice, adding another handful of cilantro and 2 tablespoons of olive oil at the end. This is more guasacaca style than guacamole, more runny than dollop-y. What do you feel like? Either way it’s still avocado sauce -- I mean come on, you’re going to propose marriage to it.
  5. Heat oil over medium in the same large pan -- not a ton of oil, this isn’t a deep or even a shallow fry -- enough to just wet the bottom of the pan. I used a paper towel to achieve this. Scoop out small handfuls of dough, patting them together to form 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick disks, with no cracks or creases. Fit as many as you can in the pan, and cook until the bottoms start to change color. Flip, and cook on the other side until slightly golden, and a bit springy to the touch.
  6. Slice the arepa open from the side to stuff it, or lay it down on a plate to pile things on top of if you’re lazy or uncoordinated. Fill (or top) with a scoop of black beans, a few strips (or rounds) of fried plantain, and a bunch of sauce. Consider moving to Venezuela and never coming back.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Ann Quinn
    Ann Quinn
  • Smylie Eckman
    Smylie Eckman
  • Emma Grace Tennyson
    Emma Grace Tennyson
  • Meesh Baker
    Meesh Baker
  • JamieB
A fan of female driven comedies, a good beat, your hair today, and making foods for friends.

11 Reviews

Ann Q. August 11, 2019
Very nice, though I can't imagine stuffing them. You might want to amend the ingredient list. It calls for 3 cups of vegetable oil, which is off-putting. I think you mean 3 Tablespoons. I had no avocado so made homemade salsa instead.
Smylie E. October 2, 2017
Personally, I liked them better with brown plantains.
Emma G. June 11, 2016
I had my first arepa at Bonnaroo 2014! That's awesome.
Jennie June 22, 2015
Made this recipe last night for a dinner party using masarepa and we are absolutely DELIGHTED with the meal and our guests were blown away! We will definitely be adding this to our rotation. We used green plantains and lightly fried the arepas so they were crisp on the outside. Absolute perfection!
Meesh B. June 21, 2015
i just started this recipe for lunch today. but the 2:2.5 ration leaves the batter super runny. should I just keep adding the corn flour (which is what i could find) to the batter until it's thicker? i'm not sure what the consistency should be. thank you! :)
Abi February 5, 2015
did you use green plantains so that they come out like tostones? or brown ones?
JamieB January 28, 2015
I love that you had your first arepa at Bonnaroo, that's where I had my first one too!
haley D. September 28, 2014
would you get a similar feel if you used polenta? i know it wouldn't be EXACTLY the same but would have a corny vibe...
Kendra V. September 28, 2014
absolutely! i think these would be killer on little polenta cakes!
Sarah September 22, 2014
how about masa harina in these?
Josie M. February 20, 2015
I tried it with masa harina and it wasn't so good.