Gallo pinto, or ’spotted rooster’ – rice and black beans – is Costa Rica’s ‘national dish’. After having eaten endless servings of this simple but very tasty dish while visiting my parents last year, I suddenly developed a craving for it. It seems to be particularly popular in Costa Rica’s Central Valley region, but I had it for both breakfast and lunch everywhere I went, served with scrambled eggs and/or fried plantain on the side. Sometimes the rice and beans were mixed together, while at other times served side by side on the plate. As with all dishes, regional variations exist.
It’s a hearty but healthy meal, perfect for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
Gallo Pinto: (serves 2 large ‘lunch’ portions)
- 200g white rice
- 250g cooked black beans & bean ’stock’
- 1 medium-sized onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsps fresh coriander
- 2 tbsps vegetable oil
- salt and pepper
- heavy cream (optional)
What to do next:
This dish is made using tinned black beans, but if you want to use dried beans, soak and cook them before you continue with the rest of the recipe. We usually use dried beans, but the tinned ones are great if you haven’t soaked any dried ones in advance and are feeling impulsive!
Boil rice in a saucepan. This should take about 15-20 minutes, depending on what type of rice you use.
Gently heat up two tins of black beans and bean juice in a separate saucepan.
Finely chop onion, pepper, garlic and coriander.
Heat a little vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry onion, garlic and pepper until golden-brown. When pepper is soft, pour in beans and simmer for a few minutes.
Add the cooked rice and stir, taking care not to mash up the beans. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, add chopped fresh coriander.
Serve with a dollop of cream or crème fraîche on top (optional but very tasty!).
Let me know if it works or if you have a better recipe!
PS My mother, who lives in Costa Rica, made gallo pinto yesterday and she used some salsa Lizano or Lizano sauce in her beans, which I don’t have access to here in London!