Vegan plantain & avocado arepas

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Are you looking for a delicious vegan meal that is absolutely jam-packed with flavor? Then you should check out this recipe for vegan sandwich-style arepas with plantains, avocados, and kidney beans. These arepas are absolutely delicious! The avocado provides a smooth, creamy element to these arepas. The tender fried sweet plantains compliment that creaminess with a bold sweetness that will leave you wanting more. 

These flavorful arepas are so healthy and so full of flavor at the same time! They are also gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, dairy free, egg free, and nut free. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Vegetarian plantain arepas

What is in these vegan arepas?

What fillings are used in these vegan sandwich style arepas? Here are the main fillings that are used in these sandwich style arepas. 

  • Plantains. The plantains are probably the most flavorful ingredient that are used in these sandwich style arepas. The plantains are fried until they are nice and sweet with a soft texture. 
  • Avocados. Some avocados are also used in these vegan arepas. The creaminess of the avocados balance out the sweetness of the plantains. 
  • Kidney beans. Kidney beans are added to these vegan arepas to add some extra protein to the arepas.
  • Hot sauce. Finally, some hot sauce is added to these plantain arepas. The hot sauce brings a little bit of acidity that balances out the creaminess of the avocado. 

How to make tender sweet plantains

The tender sweet plantains are the secret ingredient that makes these arepas absolutely heavenly. Here are a few tips for making plantains that are sweet and soft. 

  • Use ripe plantains. Make sure that your plantains are ripe. You should wait until 30-50% of your plantain peel has turned brown or black before using a plantain. Any less and the plantain might be tough and starchy. Make sure your plantains are soft at the ends and the skin peels off easily. This is another indicator that your plantains are properly ripe.
  • Ripen plantains in a bag. If you need to make your plantains ripen faster you should wrap your plantains in a plastic bag and put them in an enclosed cupboard. As plantain ripen the release gasses that encourage them to ripen even faster. You want to trap those gasses in. 
  • Cook them slowly. When in doubt, go low and slow. Cook the plantains at low temperatures for a long period of time like you would caramelized onions. 
  • Add some liquid. If you need to cook the plantains for a long time you can add water to the plantains periodically so that the outsides do not harden.

For more information on making fried sweet plantains you should check out our recipe for fried sweet plantains.
How to shape arepa patties

Tips for cooking arepas

Arepas are cooked in two phases – first on the stove top then in the oven. The first phase of cooking on the stove top serves to develop a crusty exterior. The second stage of cooking in the oven ensures that the inside of the arepa gets cooked through. Here are our tips for making arepas that are fluffy and moist on the inside and crusty on the outside.

  • Use only as much water as you need to get the dough to stick together. Dough made from masarepa is somewhat dense to begin with. Adding more water will make the dough even more dense. 
  • Cook arepas for a long time at a low temperature rather than for a short time at a high temperature. Arepas are relatively dense and thick compared to other corn products like pupusas and tamales that are made with pre made fillings. Cooking arepas for a long time at a low temperature will ensure the insides of the arepas cook through.
  • Make sure your arepas have an even thickness throughout. If some parts of the arepa are thicker than others then the arepas will not cook evenly.
  • If you are making sandwich style arepas and plan to reheat them for leftovers, do not cut the arepas in half until after they are reheated. If the arepas are cut in half prior to being put in the refrigerator they are more likely to dry out. 

If you want even more tips on how to cook arepas, check out our comprehensive guide on how to cook arepas

Other toppings for vegan arepas

Are you in need of more vegan arepa topping ideas? Here are some of our favorite toppings to put on arepas.  

  • Guasacaca. Guasacaca is a blended avocado salsa that contains ingredients such as onions, garlic, chiles, and cilantro
  • Refried beans. Pinto beans, black beans, and kidney beans all work. I recommend adding a little coconut milk to your refried beans like we do in this recipe for vegan black bean dip to make the beans extra creamy. 
  • Grilled peppers, onions, or mushrooms. Fajita-style vegetables go great with arepas. Let’s be real, they taste great on everything. 
  • Jackfruit. This one is a little more of an undertaking but jackfruit is a great substitute for meat in South American dishes. Jackfruit tastes great cooked up in a tangy tomato based sauce with regional spices added.
  • Grilled fruit. I love putting grilled fruit in savory dishes. Grilled pineapple and grilled mango are great choices.  

Much like traditional American sandwiches, sandwich style arepas benefit from having a creamy or saucy element. In this recipe the mashed avocado serves as a creamy element that keeps everything from getting too dry.  

Vegan plantain arepas

These tasty vegan arepas are absolutely loaded with flavor! Who knew something so healthy could be so delicious?
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Venezuelan
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Lactose, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: dairy free, egg free, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 4 arepas

Ingredients

  • 2 plantains
  • 1 can kidney beans (standard 16 oz can)
  • 1 large avocado
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Arepa dough

  • 1 cup masarepa
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

Fried sweet plantains

  • Preheat the coconut oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat.
  • Remove the peels from the plantains and cut the plantains into 1 inch thick slices.
  • Cook the plantains over medium heat for about 2 minutes per side.
  • Reduce the heat to low or medium low and cook for 10-15 minutes, flipping occasionally. If the plantains start to get too crispy you can add 1/4 cup water to the pan to rehydrate them.
    As the plantains cook, you can move on to shape the arepas.

Arepas

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix together all of the ingredients for the arepa dough then separate the dough into 4 equally sized balls. Press the balls into disks that are between 1/2 inch and 1 inch thick.
    If the disks crumble around the edges as you shape them you can wet your hand and smooth the edges with your fingers.
  • Preheat a flat nonstick pan or griddle over medium heat. Cook the arepas for 3-6 minute on each side or until they start to brown.
  • Put the arepas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cook the arepas for an additional 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Assembling the sandwich arepas

  • Mash the avocado with a fork.
  • After the arepas have cooled, cut the arepas in half so that you have 2 thin disks.
  • Add the mashed avocado, fried sweet plantains, kidney beans, and hot sauce to the lower half of the arepa then put the upper half of the arepa on top of it to form a sandwich.

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