Kid-friendly Venezuelan Cheesy Pea and Corn Arepas Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Venezuelan Cheesy Pea and Corn Arepas

Recipe: Venezuelan Cheesy Pea and Corn Arepas

Venezuelan Cheesy Pea and Corn Arepas

by Erin Fletter
Photo by anammarques/Adobe Stock
prep time
25 minutes
cook time
14 minutes
makes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Venezuelan Cheesy Pea and Corn Arepas

This week we are traveling to Venezuela in our kitchens. A Venezuelan table is not complete without Arepas. The simple arepa recipe requires less than thirty minutes to prepare, one bowl, and only three ingredients: cornmeal, water, and salt. Our version more closely resembles Venezuelan arepas, and we added in some cheese and green peas to jazz it up. How you prepare your arepas is up to you. The fastest ways are deep-frying or frying them in a regular pan, but you can also grill or bake them. Arepas can serve as a sandwich or burger, filled with anything you like. Feel free to have your family go wild with different fillings to serve for lunch, snacks, or dinner. Or, breakfast—one guess what Venezuelans like to eat for breakfast? Arepas! They often eat them stuffed with scrambled eggs. So shout "amo cocinar," which is "I love to cook" in Spanish, and "me encanta comer," which is "I love to eat" in Spanish, and enjoy!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • blend :

    to stir together two or more ingredients until just combined; blending is a gentler process than mixing.

  • knead :

    to work dough by pushing, pulling, and folding it by hand or with a stand mixer.

  • mash :

    to reduce food, like potatoes or bananas, to a soft, pulpy state by beating or pressure.

Equipment Checklist

  • Skillet
  • Grater
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Pancake turner or heat-resistant spatula
scale
1X
2X
3X
4X
5X
6X
7X

Ingredients

Venezuelan Cheesy Pea and Corn Arepas

  • 1/2 to 1 C Monterey Jack cheese **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free cheese, like Daiya brand)**
  • 1 1/2 C arepa flour (we like Maseca instant corn masa flour)
  • 2 T frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 T frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 T olive or vegetable oil + extra for cooking
  • 1 1/4 C warm water + more if needed

Food Allergen Substitutions

Venezuelan Cheesy Pea and Corn Arepas

  • Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free cheese, like Daiya brand, for Monterey Jack cheese.

Instructions

Venezuelan Cheesy Pea and Corn Arepas

1.
grate + measure + mix

Start by grating 1/2 to 1 cup of Monterey Jack cheese, and set to the side. Then measure and mix together 1 1/2 cups of arepa flour, 2 tablespoons corn, 2 tablespoons peas, 1 pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

2.
pour + stir + rest

Pour in 1 1/4 cups of warm water and stir with a spoon until the dough comes together. Add about half of the grated cheese to the dough and stir again. Cover and let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

3.
knead + adjust

Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for about 5 minutes, moistening hands and the board you are kneading on with water as you work. (Kneading in this additional moisture is an important step in making a tender arepa.) The dough should be smooth and not crack around the edges; it should be moist but not sticky. Add 1 tablespoon of water if too dry.

4.
form + cook

Form the dough into disks about 3 inches around and about 1/2-inch thick. Add some olive oil to a skillet on your stovetop and heat over medium heat. Add the arepas to the skillet and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes on each side, just until a golden crust forms.

5.
cool + slice

Remove the arepas from the pan and let cool a bit. Then slice the arepa down the middle, creating a slit to make a pocket (or slice in half). Stuff your arepas with some of the shredded cheese and Garden Pea Guacamole (see recipe).

Surprise Ingredient: Peas!

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Photo by R Khalil

Hi! I’m Peas!

"Hi, there! Let's see if you can guess what we are. We grow in shells; you might see us frozen in winter, fresh in spring, and canned all year round; and sometimes we're “split” and cooked in soup! You guessed it! We're Peas! We're good in salads, soups, casseroles, mixed with corn and other vegetables, and all by ourselves! We can be tricky to eat, but if we slide off your fork, you can spear us or use your knife to push us back on. Or, you might even try eating us with chopsticks!"

HIstory

  • Peas in the wild are found in the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Archaeological evidence dates peas in Iraq and Turkey to 7,500 BCE. Domesticated peas were developed from wild peas starting in the late Neolithic Era (around 5,000 BCE). Peas are one of the oldest crops to be cultivated.
  • The oldest pea ever found was 3,000 years old and was discovered on the border of Burma and Thailand. 
  • During the Middle Ages, peas were a large part of people's diets in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. 
  • In the 17th and 18th centuries, peas started being picked when they were green and immature. In England, new cultivars or varieties of peas were developed that they called "garden" or "English" peas. 
  • Thomas Jefferson grew more than 30 pea cultivars at his Monticello estate in Virginia. 
  • Clarence Birdseye, known by many as the founder of the modern frozen food industry, was the first individual to freeze peas. 
  • The world record for the most peas eaten in an hour is 7,175 peas, held by Janet Harris of Sussex, England, in 1984. She ate one pea at a time with chopsticks!! 

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Peas are members of the Fabaceae or Leguminosae family, commonly known as legumes, including peanuts, chickpeas, licorice, alfalfa, beans, carob, and soybeans. 
  • Peas are edible, usually green, round seeds that grow in a pod. The pea pods are technically a fruit because they have seeds and grow from a flower, but peas are eaten as a vegetable. 
  • Pea plants are annual plants, living for about one year. At the end of their life cycle, they can be cut back to the root, which decomposes, releasing nitrogen into the soil for the next crop of plants.
  • The singular term "pea" was back-formed in the mid 17th century by removing the "se" from the word "pease," which was mistakenly construed as a plural form. "Pease" came from the Old English "pise," from the Latin "pisum," from the Greek "pison."

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • You can pick garden peas about three weeks after flowering. The pods of shelling peas or garden peas are inedible and will swell with the growth of the peas, becoming cylindrical before harvesting. 
  • Snow peas and sugar snap peas are edible pods ready to harvest about a week after flowering. The pods can be picked when they're about two to three inches long before they begin to swell and just as the seeds or peas begin to develop. 
  • For the best taste, you'll want to eat the peas as soon after harvesting as possible. Fresh peas will last in your refrigerator for up to one week. The more peas you pick, the more the plant will produce.
  • Frozen peas are almost as tasty as fresh ones because the growers freeze them within two and a half hours of being picked. Plus, they quickly thaw when added to hot foods.
  • You can cook and serve peas alone as a vegetable, with added butter and salt. You can also add them to various dishes, such as salads, soups, casseroles, and savory pies. Snow peas and snap peas are often used in stir-fries and Chinese cuisine. Peas can even be mashed and made into a sauce, a spread, or guacamole!

Nutrition

  • Peas are loaded with nutrients, including fiber, protein, vitamin C, thiamine, vitamin K, niacin, folate, potassium, and beta carotene. These nutrients improve the body's digestive and immune systems, convert the carbohydrates we eat into energy, metabolize fats and protein, protect skin and eyes, and help prevent bleeding.

 

What are Arepas?

Photo by nehophoto for Shutterstock
  • The arepa is a flat, unleavened round of ground maize meal or maize flour, like a corn pancake, sweetened or unsweetened, that can be baked, boiled, fried, grilled, or steamed. 
  • An arepa is a traditional South American dish, prepared and used much like bread. However, unlike most breads, arepas are made with corn instead of wheat. They play a significant role in the cuisine of many nations, especially Venezuela and Colombia, and are available in street stands and restaurants all over South America. Outside of South America, you can sometimes find arepas in communities with a large South American population. 
  • The origins of arepas lie in pre-Columbian times, before Europeans arrived, in the region where Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama are now. Arepas have changed little since that time.
  • Plain arepas are very common, but so are an assortment of filled and topped arepas. In Colombia, cooks often top their plain arepas with cheese or eggs. Venezuelan-style arepas, called "arepas rellenas," are stuffed with various fillings, such as meats, vegetables, eggs, and cheeses. 
  • You can eat arepas at any time of the day. In some countries, nightclubbers typically feast on arepas after a long night of dancing.

Let's Learn About Venezuela!

Photo by Roberto Galan/Shutterstock.com
  • Venezuela's official name is the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Caracas is the capital and largest city.
  • Venezuela is on the coast of northern South America. It is the 33rd largest country in the world, with a total area of 353,841 square miles and a population of over 28 million people.
  • The country's official language is Spanish, but many official indigenous languages and various regional dialects are spoken throughout the country.
  • The climate in Venezuela is primarily tropical, with temperatures in some areas that can reach more than 100 degrees. However, a few parts of the country at higher elevations can get below freezing. There are two seasons: the summer or dry season, December to April, and the winter or wet season, May to November. 
  • Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves and is a leading oil exporter. 
  • Venezuela is home to Angel Falls, the world's highest uninterrupted waterfall at 3,212 feet tall and a popular tourist attraction.
  • The world's largest rodent, the capybara, is found in Venezuela and other parts of northern and central South American countries. 
  • Although football (soccer) is the most popular sport in South America, it comes second to baseball in Venezuela.
  • Indigenous, European, and West African traditions influence Venezuelan cuisine. Food staples include corn, rice, plantains, yams, and beans. In addition to "arepas," other popular foods include the national dish, "pabellón criollo," consisting of rice, stewed shredded beef and black beans with fried plantain, and "hallaca," corn dough filled with meat or beans and other ingredients, similar to a tamale. It is traditionally served during the Christmas holidays.

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Venezuela?

  • Schoolchildren in Venezuela can choose between attending classes in the morning or the afternoon throughout their entire school career. Older children can even choose to take classes from early afternoon until 6 pm.
  • In Caracas, on Christmas Day, it is traditional to roller skate to mass with your family, as the streets are closed. Many Venezuelans attend church then eat a feast with their families to celebrate the holiday.
  • Young kids like to play with traditional, colorful, wooden Venezuelan toys, like the "perinola," a cup-and-ball toy, the "trompo," a top with a string, and the "gurrufío," a button whirligig (or spinner or buzzer).  
  • Typical sports Venezuelan kids may play include baseball, soccer, basketball, and rugby.
  • A popular, sweet breakfast and snack food in the western state of Zulia is a "mandoca," a deep-fried cornmeal ring similar to a doughnut. For lunch or dinner, kids like to eat several "bollo pelónes," small, round balls of corn dough filled with beef or chicken stew, boiled, and served with a tomato-based sauce.

That's Berry Funny

What do polite vegetables always say? 

Peas to meet you!

Lettuce Joke Around

What do vegetables wish for, more than anything else in the whole world? 

World Peas.

That's Berry Funny

What do you call an angry pea? 

A Grump-pea!

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