Cast Iron

Oversized Mozzarella Arepas with Spring Vegetables

March 14, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

My mom, my sister, and I fell in love with homemade arepas when I was in high school. We used to make them to go with South American/Mexican-style dishes (i.e. refried beans or corn), but we'd also eat them as a starchy side dish with main course salads. When you fry them, which I'm not actually certain is the authentic way to make arepas, they develop a lovely crust on the outside and an almost creamy consistency on the inside. And when you add cubed fresh mozzarella to the arepa batter, you wind up with delicious gooey, stringy, melty cheese in every bite. You do have to be careful to keep a hot pan when frying, as the copious cheese can stick to the pan and make the arepas hard to flip. —Cara Eisenpress

Test Kitchen Notes

The best part about this recipe was the way the mozzarella oozed out of the arepas with every bite. I was also amazed at how easy the arepas were to make—I'd always been a bit intimidated by them, but they were quick enough for a weekday meal. I will say, though, that the recipe isn't joking about being "oversized." In fact, I got scared off and wound up making four normal-sized patties instead. I appreciated the bare simplicity of the spring vegetable topping, but I might add some herbs or an acid next time to brighten it. —vrunka

What You'll Need
  • For the Spring Vegetables
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, washed and trimmed
  • 1 pound thin asparagus, washed, trimmed, and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 small zuchinni, trimmed and cut very thinly (on a mandolin if possible)
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • For the Arepas
  • 1 1/2 cups masa harina (fine corn flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  1. To make the vegetables, bring a pot of water to the boil. Salt it well, then add the sugar snaps and the asparagus and let cook for about 1 minute, until very green. Add the zucchini, and let cook another 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until cooked.
  2. Drain the vegetables and shock them with cold water. Drain again, and set aside.
  3. Finish the vegetables when you've started frying the arepas: sauté the shallot and the garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until just beginning to get golden. Add the vegetables and cook to warm them through. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. To make the arepas, combine the masa harina, mozzarella, and salt in a medium bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups of room temperature water, stir well to combine, then leave for 5 minutes.
  5. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, well-seasoned cast iron or nonstick pan (big enough to fit 2 arepas). Take a little of the arepa dough and throw it into the pan. When it sizzles, you're ready to cook.
  6. Divide the arepa dough into two balls. Flatten each into a disk with about a 7-inch diameter. Add to the pan. Cook on each side for 7-8 minutes, until the arepa has formed a crust and is quite golden. Be careful when flipping, as the cheese can stick to the pan.
  7. When the arepas are done, lift them onto plates and top each with half of the sauteed vegetables and some freshly ground pepper.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • karin.anderson.52
  • sunnyluz
  • dymnyno
  • monkeymom
I'm the founder, editor, and head chef at the blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen (, a site dedicated to easy-to-execute recipes and stories from a quarter-life kitchen. I'm also the author of In the Small Kitchen published in 2011.

4 Reviews

karin.anderson.52 March 14, 2021
I made the arepas today, and, sadly they were a total flop. Realizing that the amounts of asparagus was way too much, I used only half of it, but we found the combination of sugar snap peas, asparagus and zucchini just bland and overly „healthy“ tasting.
As a baker, I used to handling wet doughs, but getting the patties into the skillet without them falling apart was quite a challenge. A cue as to what the mixed dough should feel like would have been helpful.
sunnyluz August 15, 2011
I'm missing the mozarepas from the NYC street fairs, so couldn't resist when i found this on Gojee. I added a tablespoon of sugar to recreate the street food flair, and made with PAN (precooked corn meal, the only thing I could find in my Portland, ME supermarket). Thanks for the recipe!
dymnyno June 19, 2010
I read this recipe to find out what arepes I have got to make them! They sound and look delicious.
monkeymom June 15, 2010
These look delicious!