Do you ever find yourself cooking something that transports you back to another place and time? This happened to me the other day when I was making these Poblano and Cheese Arepas for lunch. It was weird because when I created this recipe, I didn't intend for it to be inspired by Mexico. I simply thought that roasted poblano peppers with some vegan mozzarella cheese would make for a great addition to a basic arepa dough. When the mixed arepa dough with those delicious roasted poblanos and cheese hit the frying pan, I was immediately transported back to Mexico.
Maybe it was the smell of the dough hitting the oil. Maybe it was the aroma of the very popular poblano pepper. Whatever it was, I was transported back to Mexico for that brief moment in time. Don't you just love when food can do that? This definitely has to be one of my favorite aspects of cooking.
When I served the arepas to my husband Hector, he immediately commented on how they reminded him of Mexico. As soon as you cut open the arepa, you can see the roasted poblano peppers throughout and the cheese is melty and gooey. The outer part of the arepa is crisp from being cooked in a little bit of oil before it finishes cooking in the oven. In Mexican cooking, poblano peppers and white melty cheese are used in many traditional recipes. I used a meltable vegan mozzarella cheese to keep these arepas dairy-free.
These Poblano and Cheese Arepas warm the heart and soul. It is comfort food that is perfect for dinner, but also makes a great savory breakfast/ brunch item. Serve with your favorite salsa, hot sauce or guacamole. My favorite way to enjoy them is to fill the inside with ripe avocado slices, a tiny squeeze of lime juice, and some sort of leafy green.
I think you guys are really going to enjoy these vegan Poblano and Cheese Arepas. If you make these, let us know by taking us at #thymeandlove. We love to see your photos!
- 2 Cups PAN Harina, not Mexican Masa Harina
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 2 ¼ Cups Water, warmed- plus more water if needed
- 2 Tablespoons Vegan Butter, melted and cooled
- 3-4 Roasted Poblano Peppers, seeded and veins removed
- ¾- 1 Cup Vegan Shredded Mozzarella
- Vegetable Oil
- Salsa, Hot Sauce, Guacamole
- In a large mixing bowl, add the PAN Harina and salt. Slowly add in the warmed water and mix until you have a soft dough. If you find that the dough isn't moist enough, add a little bit more warm water until you reach a soft dough.
- Cut the roasted poblano peppers into a small dice. Mix them into the dough along with the melted butter and cheese. Your hands are really the best tool to mix everything together.
- Once all of the ingredients are throughly mixed in the dough, form the dough into 6-8 balls, roughly the same size.
- 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 6-8 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 transferred to the baking sheet, place in the oven and cook for 14-18 minutes, flipping the arepas 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. Serve as is or with your favorite salsa, hot sauce, or guacamole.
To roast the poblano peppers place the chiles directly over a gas flame on medium. Turn frequently with tongs until all sides of the chile has blackened. Transfer the chiles to a ziplock bag and close. Let sweat for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the charred skins. Remove the veins and seeds as well. This can be done a day or two in advance.