I have been scratching my head about how to bring traditional fall harvest ingredients into our menu this fall season.  The reason it is difficult is that corn breads, particularly the arepa, are starchy by nature.  The idea of filling corn flour bread with yams or other root vegetables is not that exciting – or even that appetizing!

In Venezuela we eat lot of root vegetables: yuca, apio (groundnut), calabaza (pumpkin), ñame, ocumo (taro root) and malanga, among others.  But usually these ingredients are not eaten inside the arepa.  Rather, these root vegetables are either steamed by themselves; or used in soups, like the traditional hervido or sancocho, a meat- or fish-based broth, served with a combination of these root vegetables and pieces of selected meats. These soups are eaten throughout Venezuela, with regional variations.

At Pica Pica what we do best is serve a great corn bread with a delicious filling; incorporating root vegetables as a filling seems challenging to me.  But it shouldn’t have been a surprise that “The Family Chef” Amy Fothergill’s “Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans” recipe worked really well as a filling! This “vegetarian chili” was rich, flavorful and not overly starchy (and of course gluten-free!). Take a look at my post here and check out the recipe she demonstrated during one of her visits to Pica Pica last spring

What fall harvest ingredients do you think would make an interesting filling?



Astro - You wrote in your article ‘traditional hervido or ancocho’. I think you missed as ‘S’ in ‘ancocho’(sancocho).

Adriana Lopez - yes I did! Thanks for the note…

Lila DeJesus - Can you help me? I’ve been looking for Venezuelan Apio for years! My family lived in Venezuela 30+ years ago. I now live on Long Island, NY and can’t seem to locate it anyplace. Is there any place you know of that is local to me or that can possibly ship it to me? Each time I ask for it in Spanish stores, I am given either celery or celery root, this is not what I’m looking for. Any help you could provide would be appreciated.

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