Adventures of the Heart
Mary Zalmanek
Side Dishes: Gallo Pinto

The literal translation for gallo pinto is spotted rooster, but don’t expect to find any chicken in it.  This popular Costa Rican dish gets its name from the speckled appearance of the beans and rice mixture. 

 

Elkin, our friendly neighbor, explained the nation's fondness this traditional dish. “For breakfast, we have rice and beans.  For lunch, we have beans and rice.  And for dinner, we have both.”

 

Gallo pinto is frequently served with Lizano Salsa.  Its unique flavor compliments this simple dish of black beans and rice.  The salsa can be ordered on several websites.  Just google “Lizano Salsa.”

 

Serves 8.

 

2 cups dry black beans

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp cumin

2 cloves garlic, minced

juice of 1 to 2 limes

 

1 cup white rice

2 cups water

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 onion, diced

1/4 bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

 

1/2 onion, diced

1/4 bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Vegetable oil

 

Lizano Salsa to taste (optional)

 

To prepare beans: Rinse the black beans and pick out any bad ones or stones.  Soak 4 to 5 hours in cold water.  Cook the beans, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic and lime juice in a large pot for 3 hours adding water as necessary or in a pressure cooker for 25 minutes.  Ticos prefer the beans to be al dente, not soft.  Beans can be stored in refrigerator for several days or freezer for several weeks until ready to use.

 

To prepare rice: Dice the onion, bell pepper and garlic.  Rinse the rice and put it in a large pan or rice cooker with water, the diced vegetables, salt and vegetable oil.  Cook the rice until it's done.  Rice can be stored in refrigerator for several days until ready to use.

 

When you are ready to assemble the gallo pinto, dice more onion, bell pepper and garlic.  Sauté it in a large frying pan.  Add roughly equal amounts of beans and rice.  Salt to taste.