Arepas with black beans and salsa verde

Arepas are a fantastic fried cornmeal cake from South America, most closely associated with Venezuelan and Colombian cuisine. Here, they’re served with black beans, zesty quick-pickled onions and a verdant salsa verde enriched with feta.

This recipe is taken from One Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones (£26, Fourth Estate). Photography by Issy Croker.

First published in 2021
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These are what we ate the day after we got married. One of the amazing people who cooked our wedding feast, Bea (@bmangobajito), is from Venezuela and she made the most perfect arepas – feather light but hearty enough to soak up a few wines from the night before. While we ate this for breakfast, these arepas could be eaten for any meal. Happy, happy food. Thank you, Bea, for sharing this recipe with me.

Ingredients

Metric

Imperial

Arepas

  • 300g of cornmeal, fine
  • 1 tsp sea salt, heaped
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil

Black beans

Pickled red onions

Salsa verde

  • 150g of feta, or vegan alternative, plus extra for serving
  • 1 bunch of coriander, small, leaves picked, plus extra for serving
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 green chilli

To serve

Method

1
Add the red onion to a small bowl with the juice of a lime and a pinch of sea salt, then scrunch them together with your hands so they start to become a bright pink colour. Put to one side to lightly pickle
2
To prepare the dough, place the cornmeal, sea salt, oil and 400-450ml of boiling water into a bowl. Allow to sit for about a minute to let the water absorb into the cornmeal a little. Then carefully mix the dough with your hands until combined. You want it to come together a bit like Play-Doh. It shouldn’t be crumbly. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes or up to 30 if you have time
3
To make the black beans, add a little olive oil to a medium frying pan and, once hot, add the cumin seeds, coriander stalks and paprika for 1 minute. Then add the black beans with the liquid from the can and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and then add the chopped green chilli and coriander leaves
4
For the salsa verde, put 30g of the feta and half the coriander leaves into a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and blitz until you have a deep green, slightly creamy salsa. Season to taste then set aside for serving
5
Once your dough has rested (it should clean the bowl and be easy to work with), pull off golf ball-sized pieces and form 8cm by 1cm-thick patties (you should be able to make 10). Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and once hot add the arepas and put the lid on, cooking on a medium heat for 7 minutes on each side until they are golden brown on both sides. Place in a warm oven while you continue to fry the rest of the arepas
6
Finish the black beans with the chopped green chilli and the coriander leaves. Serve the arepas while they are warm, split open and fill with a spoonful of the black beans, some salsa, radishes, pickled red onions, a squeeze of lime juice and a crumble of the remaining feta
First published in 2021
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Anna Jones is a cook, writer and stylist, the voice of modern vegetarian cooking and the author of the bestselling A Modern Way to Eat, A Modern Way to Cook and The Modern Cook’s Year.

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