My husband was the one who first introduced me to arepas–white corn cakes popular in Colombia and Venezuela. They are salty and mild, with a crispy exterior, and chewy, tender interior. They are a gluten-free treat. Josh cooked them for me in the tiny galley kitchen of his studio apartment. Sprinkled with soy cheese and slathered with margarine, they were a real treat. Josh makes his arepas Colombian-style, in keeping with his family tradition; they are thin and served as a side dish. In this recipe, I follow the Venezuelan template, making them thicker, so they can be split in half and stuffed. Unassuming arepas turn into a uniquely satisfying main dish once they are filled with zesty zucchini salsa and black beans.
Crispy, crunchy vegetable pancakes are summertime fried into pure comfort food. The fresh sweetness of the shredded vegetables is complemented by the electric zing of a creamy lemon-garlic sauce. Together, the latkes and white bean sauce make a complete and satisfying light meal or snack.
This recipe has been several years in the making. The first batch of vegan latkes I attempted were an unmitigated disaster. Weighed down by too much matzoh meal, they were too chewy, not very crispy, and a most unappealing shade of grey to boot. After slaving away on the recipe, shredding the potatoes by hand on a grater–these were my pre-food-processor days–it was a major disappointment. I swore I would never attempt another latke again, and we resigned ourselves to clearly inferior packaged latke mixes around Hannukah.
If you have been wanting to bake up summertime into a big savory pie and eat it for supper, this is your dish. It is the perfect way to pretend you are on the beach in Santorini or Capri, picnicking on the warm sand, rather than working indoors in the city. And it is an ideal use for the bountiful summer squash that is popping up in farmer’s markets, gardens, and grocery stores these days.