The best part about this recipe was the way the mozzarella oozed out of the arepas with every bite. I was also amazed at how easy the arepas were to make—I'd always been a bit intimidated by them, but they were quick enough for a weekday meal. I will say, though, that the recipe isn't joking about being "oversized." In fact, I got scared off and wound up making four normal-sized patties instead. I appreciated the bare simplicity of the spring vegetable topping, but I might add some herbs or an acid next time to brighten it.
Oversized Mozzarella Arepas with Spring Vegetables
- For the Spring Vegetables
- 1 cup sugar snap peas, washed and trimmed
- 1 pound thin asparagus, washed, trimmed, and cut into 2-inch lengths
- 1 small zuchinni, trimmed and cut very thinly (on a mandolin if possible)
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- For the Arepas
- 1 1/2 cups masa harina (fine corn flour)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- To make the vegetables, bring a pot of water to the boil. Salt it well, then add the sugar snaps and the asparagus and let cook for about 1 minute, until very green. Add the zucchini, and let cook another 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until cooked.
- Drain the vegetables and shock them with cold water. Drain again, and set aside.
- Finish the vegetables when you've started frying the arepas: sauté the shallot and the garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until just beginning to get golden. Add the vegetables and cook to warm them through. Season with salt and pepper.
- To make the arepas, combine the masa harina, mozzarella, and salt in a medium bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups of room temperature water, stir well to combine, then leave for 5 minutes.
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, well-seasoned cast iron or nonstick pan (big enough to fit 2 arepas). Take a little of the arepa dough and throw it into the pan. When it sizzles, you're ready to cook.
- Divide the arepa dough into two balls. Flatten each into a disk with about a 7-inch diameter. Add to the pan. Cook on each side for 7-8 minutes, until the arepa has formed a crust and is quite golden. Be careful when flipping, as the cheese can stick to the pan.
- When the arepas are done, lift them onto plates and top each with half of the sauteed vegetables and some freshly ground pepper.