Friday, June 5, 2009

Live Pura Vida

I've spent 10 days of the last 2 weeks living and working in Costa Rica. It was the second time I've taken this trip, and I felt like I was home. Costa Rica is a beautiful country and the food is delicious. There are so many fresh, tropical fruits to enjoy and a rich, local cuisine.

A staple of just about every meal in Costa Rica is Gallo Pinto, or rice and beans. Most commonly used are dried black beans, although another variation is made in red beans and cooked in pipa water, or coconut milk.

What You Need:

Dried Black Beans - 1/2 cup
White or Brown Rice (not instant) - 1 cup
White Onion
Garlic (1-2 cloves)
Red or Green Bell Pepper
Fresh Cilantro (optional)
Cooking Oil

What You Do:
  • Early Prep: Rinse black beans, put in a bowl and cover with water. Throw away any beans that float, and let the rest soak about 8 hours, then drain.
  • Pour enough oil in a very large frying pan to almost cover the bottom
  • Add uncooked rice and saute about 2 minutes. Add the onion and garlic - as much as you want to add as much flavor as you want (I used 1/2 a medium onion).
  • Add the soaked and drained beans, the cilantro, the chopped pepper and 2-3 cups of water.
  • Cover the pan and cook until both the rice and beans are tender (up to an hour).
  • After the rice and beans are cooked and all the water has cooked out, add salt to taste.
Other Variations: Use your leftover Gallo Pinto for breakfast by scrambling eggs and reheating the rice and beans in the frying pan with the scrambled eggs. A side of "french toast" is also typical, although it's not prepared with thick bread as we would. Fresh fruit or slices of fresh avocado are also complimentary at any meal. For dinners, add a side of salad made with shredded cabbage, tomato, cucumber and avocado with a very light dressing.

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