Lentil Arepas are a plant-based take on traditional carne molida. Whether you are vegan or an omnivore, you'll love these filling arepas!
I have a thing for arepas. You probably realized that from all the arepa recipes that I have shared here on the blog. I just can't help it. Arepas are comforting, filling and fairly easy to make. The hardest part about making arepas is probably locating the P.A.N Harina. I have had pretty good luck locating it at my local Hispanic grocery stores. If you don't feel like searching all over for P.A.N. Harina but are craving a warm, fluffy arepa, you can purchase P.A.N. Harina on Amazon! Yay!
This lentil filling is inspired by carne molida. Carne Molida is just ground meat that is cooked with a little onion, green pepper and garlic. Lentils are a great plant-based substitute for carne molida. Whether you are vegan or just looking to incorporate more plant-based proteins into your diet, you'll love these Lentil Arepas.
I like to add a few spices to the lentil filling. It isn't traditional to add spices to carne molida, but I really feel like the lentil need a little seasoning. The lentils are seasoned with chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika and salt.
I like to start cooking the lentils first and once they are simmering, I'll start making the arepas. Arepas are best right after they have been made. You can also do a little meal prepping by making the lentil filling in advance. Just reheat the lentils after the arepas are done. These Lentil Arepas are also naturally gluten-free!
For the Lentil Filling:
- 1 Cup Dried Brown Lentil, rinsed
- 3 Cups Water
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- ½ Yellow Onion, minced
- ½ Green Bell Pepper, diced
- 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ⅓ Cup Water, plus any additional if needed
For the Arepas:
- 2 Cups P.A.N. Harina
- Pinch of Salt
- 2 ¼ Cups Warm Water
- Additional water if needed
- Vegetable Oil
For the Lentil Filling:
- First cook the lentils. In a medium saucepan add the lentil and water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until the lentils are done, about 20 minutes. Use a fine-mesh strainer to drain the lentils. Season with salt. Set aside until needed.
- In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and green bell pepper. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and salt. Stir to coat all the lentil with the spices.
- Lower the heat to medium and add the drained cooked lentils along with the water. Use a masher or the back of a fork to mash them a bit as they cook. Continue mashing until the lentil are broken up and come together. It should take about 5 minutes. If the pan gets to dry, add a splash of water. Taste and see if the lentils need any more seasoning.
- Serve with arepas.
For the Arepas:
- In a mixing bowl, add the P.A.N. Harina and salt. Mix together. Stir in the warm water and knead the dough with your hands until it comes together. You want the dough to be really moist. If it starts to crack, add in a little of the additional water as needed. Squeeze out any lumps that might have formed in the dough. If the dough is too moist, add in a tiny bit of more flour. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
- Divided the dough into 6 equal portions. Roll each dough portion into a ball. Then form the dough ball into a patty that is apart 3 to 4 inches in diameter by using the palms of your hands. If the dough is drying out and cracking when you roll it, add a little warm water to your hands before forming the disks.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Lightly oil a large skillet over medium heat. Let the skillet get hot before adding the arepa dough. In batches, add the formed arepas disks to the skillet. Cook each arepa about 4-6 minutes on each side, or until they start to get light brown spots. Transfer to the baking sheet.
- Once all the arepas have been browned in the skillet and transfered to the baking sheet, place in the oven and cook for 14-18 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking time. They will finishing cooking in the oven. When they are done, the outer part will sound hard and hallow when tapped with your hand. They should also be a nice golden brown color. Remove from the oven.
- Let cool a few minutes before handling. Carefully slice the arepas ¾ way through, creating a pocket. Fill them with the lentil filling. Serve right away!