Monday, April 15, 2013

Arepas with Black Beans, Avocados and Cotija Cheese

Alex and I were left with a dinner dilemma on Sunday.  We had a lot of items in the fridge, but nothing really went together and I had no interest in going to the grocery store or cleaning up after an elaborate meal.  I really wanted something quick and easy.  Once we realized what we had in the fridge, the simplest solution seemed to be to make some form of arepas with the store-bought arepas.  I thought the arepas already had cheese in them, but it turned out that they were plain.  I threw together some black beans, with sauced jalapenos, onions, garlic, cilantro and cumin.  I'm not typically a huge fan of beans but these were actually very tasty.  I'm proud (and a little bit shocked) to say that we ate the entire pan of beans.  The only problem with the dish was was that it needed some sort of a sauce.  I originally considered taking one of the avocados and blending it with some lime juice and other ingredients to make more of a sauce, but we ran out of limes (and I got lazy).  Looking back on it, I wish we had made something like this Avocado-Lime Sauce to give the arepas some moisture.  They were a little dry.  Halfway through the meal I admitted that I really should have thrown half of the avocado in the blender and served the other half sliced because it would have been the best of both worlds.  Beans and arepas (particularly plain arepas) need something saucy and/or creamy to really make them come together.  I had hoped that the sliced avocado itself would be enough, but while it did provide some creaminess, it didn't quite get the job done.  Oh well.  I think it would have made for a really nice sauce for the arepas.  As a side note, that avocado-lime sauce gives me some interesting ideas for a shrimp tostada, but that is a dish (and a blog post) for another day.

Recipe after the jump!

Arepas with Black Beans, Avocados and Cotija Cheese

For beans
2 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tsp, separated
1/2 small sweet onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small jalapeno, minced (if  you don't want heat, remove the seeds)
1 tbsp cilantro stems, minced
19 oz. can black beans
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp cilantro leaves, minced
For arepas
4 corn arepas, heated according to package instructions
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
juice of 1 lime
cotija cheese
2 tbsp cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add onions and saute, until beginning to soften, about 2-3 minutes.  Add garlic and jalapeno.  Saute until the onions have turned translucent, another 2-3 minutes.  Add cilantro stems, stir to combine and add black beans and ground cumin.  Cook, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes.  Season to taste with kosher salt.  Remove from heat, add cilantro leaves and stir to combine.  Drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil.

Meanwhile, toss avocados with juice of 1 lime. 

Serve beans with avocados, crumbled cotija cheese and cilantro leaves.

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