Living in the city, it is easy to forget what really fresh produce looks like. Last week I visited friends who live and work on a piece of land in Bosque Farms, New Mexico. It is a small organic farm sponsored by CSA members that fills many good homes with the freshest onions, garlic, carrots, peppers and greens around.
When given the opportunity, I love to cook for people hosting me and always try to make something out of the ordinary. This was my second consecutive year making arepas for these sunburnt New Mexican hands, and the little pockets were slathered in hot sauces and enjoyed with a bright salad of greens and nuts.
Cheap, Easy, Delicious
Arepas are gluten-free, Venezuelan cakes made with pre-cooked corn flour. I fell in love with them at Caracas, a great New York restaurant that welcomed vegan substitutions like Leek Jardinera, Plantains and Beans, and Grilled Tofu onto their otherwise meaty and cheesy menu.
It turns out arepas are easy and inexpensive to make at home. Just fill with any veggies you have around and serve to hungry mouths. I loaded one batch with a mixture of fresh leeks, onions and sundried tomatoes and another with black beans, avocado and sweet potato.
- 2 1/2 cups masarepa cornmeal (precooked cornflour)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 3/4 cups hot water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Mix salt and cornflour in a large bowl.
- Add hot water and olive oil and knead until combined. Then cover and let sit for 15 minutes while preparing fillings. (See Leek Jardinera recipe below.)
- Divide dough into 12 equal parts and let sit covered with plastic wrap for 15 more minutes.
- To cook, flatten and fry the cakes in a layer of oil until crisp on each side.
- Once crisp, transfer to a preheated oven (350 degrees) to cook through (10-15 minutes).
- Slice and stuff with fillings.
- Serve warm!
Leek Jardinera Filling
- 2 - 3 leeks, thinly sliced
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cups sundried tomatoes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Reconstitute the sundried tomatoes in a bowl by covering them with a few cups of boiling water.
- Meanwhile, saute the onion and leeks in olive oil over medium heat until caramelized.
- Add the sundried tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.