After watching Disney’s Encanto far too many times, I’ve had a constant craving for naturally gluten free arepas recently. This South American specialty is a bit like a savoury corn bread, shaped like a firm patty and slightly crispy on the outside.
Arepas are a staple in Colombia, Venezuela and Bolivia, and are delicious split and stuffed with fillings.
They are made with a ground maize flour called “harina pan” or “masarepa”, which is naturally gluten free, making it a perfect dish for coeliacs to enjoy. You can buy it from Tesco, from speciality food shops (my local Colombian coffee shop sells it) and online (Sous Chef and Amazon, for example).
These arepas are incredibly easy and quick to make. Simply using three ingredients – harina pan, warm water and fine salt. I often make them for family dinner, as my kids both love them and they can be thrown together really speedily.
What Can I Fill My Arepas With?
Anything you like! I tend to go for a combo of a few of:
- BBQ pulled pork (slow braised beef and pulled chicken would also be great)
- Pan fried plantain
- Braised black beans
- Grated cheese (cheddar is my fave)
- Smashed avocado
- Lime pickled red onions
- Sliced red pepper
- Jalepeno tabasco sauce (for a tangy kick)
Even if you just have them with cheddar cheese, they are such comfort food!
Doesn’t Pulled Pork Take Ages?
I batch cook my BBQ pulled pork and freeze it in portions. Then when we want arepas for dinner, I simply defrost and reheat in the microwave. It’s so handy and quick as a meal for the family.
How Do I Cook Plantain for Arepas?
I really love plantain, after eat a lot of it in Costa Rica a few years back I learnt how to prepare it at home.
You can buy it in some supermarkets and greengrocers, I have found them easily in Bristol and London, in my locals. When they ripen the skin goes black, so for the perfect plantain you want to get a mainly black one with some yellow patches. Which is still firm to the touch.
Peel off the skin, slice into rounds, then you can either pan fry with oil or bake in the oven.
To pan fry, add some oil to the pan, place the round in and cook over a medium heat for about 4 minutes on each side. The plantain will be nicely coloured, soft and sweet.
To oven bake, place on a baking tray, drizzle with oil and bake at 180C for about 25 minutes, turning halfway through.
How Do I Prepare Braised Black Beans for Arepas?
I’ve a simple method to make these beans, making them child friendly for my kids to enjoy. However you can load them with extra flavour and spice if you have more adventurous palettes to feed.
Drain and rinse a can of black beans and add to a saucepan with 50ml water. Add 1tsp oregano, 1 tbsp cumin and 1 tbsp paprika. Season if you wish.
Bring to the boil then cook over a low-medium heat for 10 minutes, then serve.
Easy Gluten Free Arepas Recipe
This recipe makes 4 arepas, so simply double or triple it if you are cooking for a family. I find two generously-filled arepas is plenty for one person, but we’ve all got different appetites.
Naturally gluten free arepas are quick and easy to make, only using 3 ingredients. Fill them will all sorts of delicious things, from pulled pork and avocado to fried plantain and black beans.
- 200g harina PAN
- 0.5 tsp fine salt
- 240ml warm water
- Add the three ingredients to a bowl and mix to combine. Then use your hand to knead the dough until smooth, then form into a ball.
- Cut or break the ball into 4 even-sized pieces.
- Roll each piece into a ball, then press out to form a flat disk, approx 1.5cm thick, 10cm wide. To get mine nice and flat on each side, I shape it on the worktop and use a flat doughscraper to press down on it. Then I smooth out the sides.
- Heat a frying pan to medium and add a tbsp olive oil. Add one or two arepas (depending how much space you have) and cook for 5 minutes on each side, until nicely golden.
- To serve, split them down the middle and stuff with yummy things! See my intro for some filling ideas and recipes.
These are best eaten warm, when freshly cooked.
For more tasty gluten free breads, why not try some of my other recipes while you are here:
Enjoy! Laura xxx