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There are countless variations of arepas all over Colombia and Venezuela, but whether theyre stuffed with cheese, chicken, or pork, the dough starts in the same way: with arepa flour (precooked corn flour) and water. Yes, you will need to seek out arepa flour (GoyaandPANare widely available). Both white and yellow will work, but keep in mind that yellow typically requires a bit more water to become properly hydrated.

adapted from Bon Apptit.

ingredients

  • cup raw sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 cups arepa flour
  • 2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
  • 5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 serrano chiles
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 cups cilantro leaves with tender stems, divided
  • 2 limes
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 2- 15.5 oz can black beans, drained, rinsed
  • optional: cup crumbled queso fresco

method

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Toast seeds on a parchment paperlined rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until darkened and fragrant, 810 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; reserve baking sheet and parchment.
  2. Meanwhile, combine flour and 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp. Morton salt in a large bowl. Add 2 tsp. oil and 1 cup warm water and mix with a sturdy spatula or your hands to combine. If dough feels dry, add more water 1 tablespoonful at a time until it holds together. Smash and knead dough until smooth and no small clumps or dry bits remain; it shouldnt crack when you squeeze it. Cover bowl with a damp kitchen towel and set aside to let dough hydrate, 15 minutes.
  3. Halve chiles lengthwise, removing seeds and membranes if less heat is desired. Place one in a food processor. Finely chop remaining chile and set aside. Add avocado, 1 cup cilantro, and juice from limes to food processor and pulse until mostly smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in 4 Tbsp oil until a smooth sauce forms. Taste and season with salt.
  4. Add all but 2 Tbsp toasted seeds to hydrated dough. Knead in bowl until seeds are incorporated and dough is firm and homogenous, 12 minutes. Turn out dough onto reserved parchment and divide into 8 pieces.
  5. Heat 1 tsp. oil in a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high until shimmering. Working in batches, press dough into disks that are about 5 in diameter and thick and add directly to skillet. Cook, turning once with a spatula and reducing heat to medium if theyre browning too quickly, until a crisp, slightly charred crust forms, 35 minutes per side. Transfer arepas to same baking sheet and bake until slightly puffed and springy, 1012 minutes.
  6. While arepas bake, wipe out skillet, then pour in remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and heat over medium. Add chili powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add beans and cook, stirring frequently, until warmed through, 34 minutes. Add reserved chopped chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 more minute. Remove from heat and add remaining 1 cup cilantro. Season with salt.
  7. Spread arepas with avocado sauce. Top with bean mixture, cheese (if using), and reserved seeds.

serves 4.

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