Arepas Are the Key to a Better Breakfast Sandwich
A staple of both Venezuelan and Colombian cuisine, arepas are versatile enough to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This corn-based griddle cake is also naturally gluten-free and reheats even better than bread, bagels, or English muffins, which makes them the best vessel for a breakfast sandwich you’re not eating — yet.
This summer I began a love affair with arepas after eating them at an arepa kiosk in a food hall here in Atlanta. When tasked with learning to make them at home, I connected with Sara Martinez, a food writer who studies Spanish cuisine and was born and raised in Venezuela.
Learn how to make them: How To Make Arepas
Arepas for Breakfast“Arepas are like Venezuelan fast food,” Sara Martinez tells me over the phone. Martinez should know — she has cooked and eaten arepas all her life. Unlike English muffins or bagels, which both take a fair amount of time and energy to reproduce at home, arepas are a made-at-home staple. Most Colombian and Venezuelan cooks make big batches once or twice a week and eat them on the go for quick breakfasts or dinners. Arepas are eaten smeared with butter or split and filled with cheese, scrambled eggs, or braised meats. “My mother eats them with peanut butter,” Sara says with a laugh. “Much like some Americans eat an English muffin.”
Arepas are traditionally made by soaking dried corn and grinding those kernels into a thin paste. Modern arepas are made with a special corn flour called masarepa. Masarepa isn’t the same as the masa known for making tortillas and tamales, because masarepa has more starch. This extra starch give arepas a texture closer to bread than tortillas. If you’ve experimented with gluten-free baking, you know how critical it is to texture and structure. Since masarepa is both naturally high in starch and gluten-free, making and enjoying arepas as a gluten-free bread alternative is a no-brainer.
Make Extra to Eat All Week
Arepas are the kind of breakfast staple that can and should be made in big batches and eaten throughout the week. The dough is easy to prepare (and doesn’t require any kneading or rising) and the finished arepas keep well. My favorite way to eat them is reheated in the toaster oven with scrambled eggs, avocado, and cheese. For best results, reheat arepas in a 350°F oven or toaster oven for about 10 minutes. Arepas can also be frozen; layer between parchment paper (to prevent sticking) and freeze them in an airtight container.