I had never heard of arepas until a Venezuelan food stand opened at the Oxbow Public Market in Napa. Every time we’re in the area, we stop by for a snack. We actually don’t go to Napa that often though, so I knew I needed to learn to make some items from their menu so that we could get our fix in between visits.
Arepas are essentially cornmeal patties that can be grilled, baked or fried. There are a few different versions; some are thicker and get sliced in half and stuffed with a variety of fillings, others are thinner and served with toppings. This recipe is for the thinner arepas, which are topped with black beans, avocado salsa and cheese.
To make these arepas, you’ll need to procure some harina precocida, which is a precooked corn flour. For this particular version, nothing else will do. I found my harina precocida at a Mexican market. The arepas are cooked first in a pan, then finished in the oven.
The patties are topped with a black bean mixture and an avocado salsa. The avocado salsa is uniquely flavored with onion, red bell pepper, tomato, Dijon mustard, olive oil, vinegar and cilantro. The arepas are finished with a sprinkling of queso fresco. This dish isn’t particularly difficult to make, but it is quite time consuming because of all the different steps. It's totally worth the effort though, so if you can find some harina precocida, take the time to give this a try.