Arepas con Queso is a delicious traditional dish from Venezuelan cuisine, and have become incredibly popular worldwide.
This version combines the essence of arepas with healthier ingredients to satisfy both your taste buds and wellness goals.
Feel free to leave out the extra fillings I included if you want a classic Arepas con Queso, but one of the best things about arepas is how versatile they are.
So I encourage you to change the ingredients to make it your own.
These arepas are made with cornmeal, but they are enriched with grated carrots, providing a juicy texture and an extra boost of fiber and nutrients. The filling includes low-fat turkey ham, fresh cheese, ripe tomatoes, and crispy lettuce, creating an irresistible combination of flavors and textures.
Choosing arepas over white bread has significant benefits. Arepas are naturally gluten-free, and their carbohydrate content is lower compared to bread. Moreover, their filling and nutritious ingredients will keep you satisfied for longer.
If you follow weight watchers, this recipe makes 4 servings and each servings comes in at 5 ww points.
Discover a healthier and delightful way to enjoy arepas with this tasty recipe.
Why try arepas?
There are dozens of reasons to include an arepa in your breakfast. These corn delights are an excellent source of fiber, promoting healthy digestion and keeping you satisfied for longer, so you can start your day at full throttle. Their unmatched versatility allows them to beautifully complement a variety of fillings, such as cheeses, meats, cold cuts, vegetables, and eggs.
Ingredients in Arepas
For the Arepa Dough:
- Precooked corn flour: the base of the arepas. You can find it in Latin American grocery stores or use polenta as a perfect alternative for this recipe.
- Finely grated carrot: adds moisture and flavor to the dough, as well as providing additional nutrients.
- Water and salt: necessary for mixing and seasoning the arepas.
For the Arepa Filling:
As we mentioned before, the filling for the arepa can be very versatile. In this recipe, we used a variety of Venezuelan fresh cheese, known as Paisa, turkey ham, and vegetables. But you can use the filling of your preference, whatever you have on hand.
- Cheese of your preference: the choice of cheese can vary according to personal preferences, such as mozzarella, cheddar, or any other of your choice.
- Turkey ham: a healthier and low-fat option to add protein to the filling.
- Tomato slices: provide a refreshing and juicy touch to the arepa filling.
- Lettuce: adds a crispy texture and fresh flavor to the overall taste of the arepas.
Instructions for making Arepas
To make grilled arepas using pre-cooked cornmeal and grated carrot,
- first mix water, salt, and grated carrot in a bowl.
- Gradually add the pre-cooked cornmeal while stirring until you have a smooth and homogeneous dough.
- Knead the mixture for a few minutes to ensure all the ingredients are well incorporated.
- Divide the dough into portions and shape each one into a ball.
- Gently flatten the balls to form the arepas.
- Then, place the arepas on a preheated grill or skillet over medium-high heat and cook for a few minutes on each side until they are golden brown and crispy.
- Fill the arepas with the filling of your preference and that's it.
Variations and substitutions
- Classic Arepas con Queso: Skip the extra veggies and protein in this recipe, and just use cheese as the filling.
- Substitute regular corn flour with whole grain corn flour: Whole grain corn flour is a more nutritious option as it contains more fiber and nutrients compared to refined corn flour.
- Add bran to the dough: Bran is the fibrous part of wheat grain and can add texture and higher fiber content to the arepas. You can mix it with the corn flour to create a healthier version.
- Replace grated carrot with grated beetroot: If you want to add a touch of color and different flavor, you can substitute grated carrot with grated beetroot. Beetroot is also rich in nutrients and will give your arepas an interesting twist.
- Swap water with spinach juice: To increase the nutrient content and add a flavor boost to your arepas, you can replace part or all of the water in the recipe with spinach juice. This will add extra vitamins and minerals to your preparation.
- Include grated zucchini: To incorporate more vegetables into your arepas, you can add grated zucchini to the dough. Zucchini will contribute moisture, texture, and a mild flavor that pairs well with other ingredients.
Tips and Tricks for making arepas
- Consistency of the dough: The dough for arepas should have a smooth and malleable texture, similar to playdough. Make sure to add enough water or liquid to the cornmeal to achieve the right consistency. You'll know the dough is perfect when it comes off your hands and the sides of the bowl. If it's too dry, add a little more water; if it's too sticky, add a little more cornmeal.
- Shaping the arepas: To shape the arepas, take a portion of dough and form a ball. Then gently flatten the ball with your hands to create a round and flat shape. If necessary, you can lightly moisten your hands with water to prevent the dough from sticking.
- Cooking with a lid: When cooking arepas, it is recommended to use a non-stick skillet with a lid. Cook the arepas over medium-high heat until they are golden brown on both sides, then reduce the heat and cover the skillet with the lid. This will help the arepas cook evenly and become well-cooked in the center.
- Cooking time: The cooking time for arepas may vary depending on their thickness and size. Generally, it takes about 5-7 minutes on each side. To check if they are ready, you can gently tap the surface of the arepas; if they make a hollow sound, it means they are well-cooked.
- Remember that practicing and experimenting with ingredient proportions will help you find your own technique for making the best arepas. Enjoy your culinary experience and savor these delicious creations!
If you like these arepas you'll love this classic chilaquiles rojos recipe.
If you are looking for even more delicious breakfast options check out these 23 mexican breakfast ideas.
Arepas Con Queso
- For the arepas:
- 1 cup (120 g) precooked cornmeal
- ½ cup (60 g) finely grated carrot
- ¾ cup (180 ml) warm water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- For the filling:
- Tomato slices
- Lettuce leaves
- 3.5 oz (100 g) sliced turkey ham
- 3.5 oz (100 g) fresh cheese, sliced
- In a container, dissolve the salt in the warm water and add the grated carrot. Mix well.
- Little by little, add the precooked cornmeal to the mixture of water, salt and carrot. Continue mixing until you have a smooth, workable dough. Add more cornmeal if necessary. Knead the arepa dough for a few minutes to make sure all the ingredients are well incorporated. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to hydrate.
- Divide the dough into portions and form balls. Then, flatten each ball with your hands to create round, flat shapes about 1cm thick.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and place the arepas in the skillet. Cook each side for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
- Remove the arepas from the pan and let them cool slightly before cutting them in half.
- To assemble the filling, place sliced tomato slices, lettuce leaves, turkey ham and fresh cheese inside each arepa. Ready! Serve the arepas fit with the prepared filling and enjoy a healthy and delicious option.
- The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contribute to a daily diet. 2000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
- Amount is based on ingredients that specify value for this nutrient and 0 for those that don't.
- Makes 4 servings
- 5 ww points per serving