Blackened Queso De Freir Arepas with Cucumber, Avocado & Pickled Onion Salad

Blackened Queso De Freir Arepas

with Cucumber, Avocado & Pickled Onion Salad

40 MIN
4 Servings
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From the Test Kitchen

A staple of Venezuelan and Colombian cuisines, arepas are bun-like flatbreads of ground maize, topped or stuffed with savory ingredients. In our version, we’re topping homemade arepas with blackened queso de freir—a delicious, semi-hard cheese that maintains its shape at high temperatures. The technique of blackening entails coating the cheese in spices and searing it in a hot pan until it chars slightly, releasing the deep, toasted flavors of the spices. Along with lime-seasoned crema, quick-pickled onion and cilantro, this dish is a new summer classic.

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  • Nutrition
    PER SERVING
  • Calories
    685 Cals (est.)
fresh
ingredients
Blackened Queso De Freir Arepas with Cucumber, Avocado & Pickled Onion Salad
Title
time-saving
tips & techniques
Prepare the ingredients:
1 Prepare the ingredients:

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel, halve and thinly slice the onion. Cut the queso into 8 equal-sized slices. Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Quarter the lime. Pit, peel and medium dice the avocado; toss with the juice of 1 lime wedge to prevent browning. Halve the cucumber lengthwise; using a spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds. Thinly slice the cucumber. Halve the tomatoes.

Pickle the onion:
2 Pickle the onion:

In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), combine the onion, sugar, vinegar, a big pinch of salt and ½ cup of water. Heat to boiling on high. Cook, occasionally swirling the pan, 2 to 4 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced in volume by about half and the onion is bright pink. Transfer the pickled onion and pickling liquid to a heatproof bowl and set aside. Carefully rinse and dry the pan.

Form & cook the arepas:
3 Form & cook the arepas:

In a medium bowl, combine the masarepa and 2 cups of warm water; season with salt and pepper. Stir to form a stiff dough. Transfer to a clean, dry work surface. Using your hands, knead the dough for 20 to 30 seconds, or until smooth. Using wet hands, form the kneaded dough into 8 equal-sized balls; flatten each ball with your palm to a ½-inch-thick round. In the pan used to pickle the onion, heat a thin layer of oil on medium-high until hot. Working in batches if necessary, add the arepas and cook 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Carefully wipe out the pan.

Blacken the queso:
4 Blacken the queso:

Season the queso slices with salt, pepper and the smoked paprika on all sides. In the pan used to cook the arepas, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned queso slices and cook 2 to 4 minutes per side, or until blackened and crispy. Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.

Finish the arepas:
5 Finish the arepas:

In a medium bowl, combine the Mexican crema and the juice of the remaining lime wedges; season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the cooked arepas on a serving dish. Divide the lime crema between the cooked arepas. Top each with a blackened queso slice, some of the pickled onion (reserve the pickling liquid) and a pinch of the cilantro.

Make the salad & serve your dish:
6 Make the salad & serve your dish:

In a large bowl, combine the arugula, avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, remaining pickled onion (reserve the pickling liquid) and remaining cilantro. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the reserved pickling liquid and a drizzle of olive oil. Toss to coat; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve the finished arepas with the salad on the side. Enjoy!

Tips from Home Chefs

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Get This Recipe Delivered
1 Prepare the ingredients:

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel, halve and thinly slice the onion. Cut the queso into 8 equal-sized slices. Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Quarter the lime. Pit, peel and medium dice the avocado; toss with the juice of 1 lime wedge to prevent browning. Halve the cucumber lengthwise; using a spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds. Thinly slice the cucumber. Halve the tomatoes.

2 Pickle the onion:

In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), combine the onion, sugar, vinegar, a big pinch of salt and ½ cup of water. Heat to boiling on high. Cook, occasionally swirling the pan, 2 to 4 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced in volume by about half and the onion is bright pink. Transfer the pickled onion and pickling liquid to a heatproof bowl and set aside. Carefully rinse and dry the pan.

Pickle the onion:
Form & cook the arepas:
3 Form & cook the arepas:

In a medium bowl, combine the masarepa and 2 cups of warm water; season with salt and pepper. Stir to form a stiff dough. Transfer to a clean, dry work surface. Using your hands, knead the dough for 20 to 30 seconds, or until smooth. Using wet hands, form the kneaded dough into 8 equal-sized balls; flatten each ball with your palm to a ½-inch-thick round. In the pan used to pickle the onion, heat a thin layer of oil on medium-high until hot. Working in batches if necessary, add the arepas and cook 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Carefully wipe out the pan.

4 Blacken the queso:

Season the queso slices with salt, pepper and the smoked paprika on all sides. In the pan used to cook the arepas, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned queso slices and cook 2 to 4 minutes per side, or until blackened and crispy. Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.

Blacken the queso:
Finish the arepas:
5 Finish the arepas:

In a medium bowl, combine the Mexican crema and the juice of the remaining lime wedges; season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the cooked arepas on a serving dish. Divide the lime crema between the cooked arepas. Top each with a blackened queso slice, some of the pickled onion (reserve the pickling liquid) and a pinch of the cilantro.

6 Make the salad & serve your dish:

In a large bowl, combine the arugula, avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, remaining pickled onion (reserve the pickling liquid) and remaining cilantro. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the reserved pickling liquid and a drizzle of olive oil. Toss to coat; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve the finished arepas with the salad on the side. Enjoy!

Make the salad & serve your dish:
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