Saturday, September 17, 2011

Last of the Summer: Arepas & Sangria

Summer in Seattle never really began this year, so it's slightly odd to say it's ending. But as the sunset creeps earlier in the day and the air feels crisper - I know I'm headed down a path of pulling out the sweaters from the back of my closet and turning on the furnace for the first time in months.

I looked through the refrigerator at the last of the fresh white corn from my CSA box, the plums and blackberries that were beginning to over ripen and soften. I had to accept the inevitable, that I probably am not going to see these fruits and veggies at their prime for much longer. So I had to make the most of this last haul I had on hand. This recipe for sangria is amazing because it relies more on the natural sweetness of the fruit rather than a sugary juice that left us all with the crazy hangovers of college parties past. You can use a simple red table wine, any fresh citrus and fruit you have on hand, it only gets better as the fruit marinates in the drink.

Arepas are made with a fine corn flour called Masa Harina. Traditionally used in Mexico to make tortillas and tamales, it's easy to find at any grocery store. You have the freedom to use it as a canvas for any toppings you wish - just like pizza. The texture is dense yet soft and tastes like a thick, doughy corn tortilla. Mixing in mozzarella to the dough before grilling in a cast iron skillet lends more flavor and richness to the mix. Enjoy your food with friends, sip sangria with the last of a summer sunset, and make sure you soak up the last of the season.

2 bottles Red Table Wine
1 bottle natural fruit juice blend - I love Trader Joe's Mango Passion fruit Juice Blend
A splash of Orange Liquor
Sliced or chopped fruit - orange, lime, apple, stone fruit and berries

There's no right or wrong fruit you can use, but I like to have a mix which includes some citrus and variation in texture. Mix all ingredients together in a pitcher or mason jar and allow the sangria to chill in the refrigerator for an hour so fruit can soak up the flavors of the liquid.

Vegetarian Arepas:
Makes 2 servings

1 Cup Masa Harina
1 Cup warm Water
6 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped
1 can black beans
1 ear of corn, kernels
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
4 asparagus stalks, chopped
2 small yellow zucchini squash, sliced
1 Tbs Cumin
1 Tbs dry Oregano
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper

To make Arepa dough combine Masa Harina, Water, chopped mozzarella and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl and mix with wooden spoon. Form into a ball and leave to rest for a few minutes. Divide dough into two balls and flatten into an 1/8th inch thick disk using your hands. Add 1 Tbs vegetable oil to a cast iron skillet and heat on high. Add Arepas to pan and lower heat to medium. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side.

While Arepas are cooking, combine all vegetables in a large bowl and lightly coat with vegetable oil. Mix seasoning blend together and sprinkle over vegetables, mixing to coat well. Saute vegetables in a separate pan on medium-high heat until roasted and tender. Drain and rinse black beans and place in a small sauce pan on a third stove burner. Add a dash of salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Cover and cook through for 5 minutes.

Remove Arepas from pan and place on a plate. Lay down a layer of black beans and top with sauteed vegetables. Add hot sauce or salsa if you like.