The first time I tried arepas was at a church street fair in East Los Angeles. Tall stacks of cheese-filled patties caught my attention as they exchanged the hands of patrons. Topped with shredded cabbage and lettuce, chunks of avocado and a deep red salsa, the smell of warm masa permeated the cold night air.
I asked the woman who proudly placed the plate on my hand if these masa discs were a variation of Mexican gorditas. The woman gasped and said, “no, no,no! They might look similar but the ingredients are completely different.”
She explained the big difference in the flours this street food is made with. Arepas are made with masarepa, a pre-cooked, finer cornmeal that forms a smooth dough when mixed with water. The texture is less grainy and fluffier than masa harina. It cooks quickly and can easily be stuffed with various ingredients.
For a quick and easy meal, I wanted to give arepas a try and stuff them with cheese and big pieces of Cacique® Longaniza Fresca. I precooked the longaniza and stuffed it in these tasty corn cakes. Cacique® Longaniza is full of flavor and cooks in large pieces. It can also be broken up to a smaller crumble if stirred continuously when cooking. The beauty of this longaniza is that the casing can be removed or left as is to be cooked on the grill. It’s a very versatile meat that can be incorporated into many dishes.
For added flavor and balance, I included a couple of pieces of Cacique® Queso Quesadilla Cheese. The flavors melded beautifully and made a very kid-friendly snack as well as a convenient lunch. No silverware is needed and fits perfectly in any lunch box.
You will be surprised at how quickly arepas cook and just how few ingredients are needed to prepare a complete meal that ishearty, mouthwatering and a new family favorite.
Note: Click the ‘Products‘ tab above to learn more about the Cacique® ingredients used in this recipe. You can find these ingredients near you by clicking the ‘Find Stores‘ tab, selecting the products you are looking for, and entering your zip code.
WHAT YOU NEED
- 2 cups masarepa cornmeal
- 10 ounces Cacique® Longaniza Fresca, casing removed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2-2 cups warm water
- 5 ounces Cacique® Queso Quesadilla Cheese, sliced in 1-inch pieces
- romaine lettuce leaves
- 1/2 cup baby heirloom tomatoes, halved
- jalapeño slices
HOW TO MAKE IT
- In a sauté pan over low medium heat, cook longaniza, breaking it apart into big pieces with spatula until thoroughly cooked; about 10 minutes. Place cooked longaniza on a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess grease. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine masarepa, salt and water. Mix with hands until masa is smooth and does not sticks to hands. Divide dough in sixteen parts. With wet hands, roll each piece of dough into a golf ball-size ball. Flatten between palms of hand into a 1/4-inch patty.
- Place 1 tablespoon cooked longaniza and 2 pieces of cheese on 8 dough patties. Top with second dough pattie and pinch edges shut.
- Lightly spray a large non-stick skillet and place over medium heat. Working in batches of 2 or 3 arepas, heat each arepa 4 minutes on each sides.
- Arrange romaine lettuce leaves on a serving tray. Place arepas on top, garnish with tomatoes and jalapeños and serve.