Gallo Pinto

Gallo pinto, literally "spotted rooster," is ubiquitous in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. It refers to black beans and rice cooked together, and is served at every meal, surrounded by various side dishes. It’s easy to make and very healthy. Gallo pinto
Yield 4-6 servings
Time 20 to 45 minutes (plus bean soaking and cooking)
  • large saucepan
  • wooden spoon
  • bowl
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 c uncooked rice or 2 c leftover cooked rice
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • several T sweet or hot pepper, minced
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1½ c hot water (if starting with uncooked rice)
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 c dried black beans, soaked and cooked, or 2 c canned black beans, rinsed
  • 2 T of cilantro or parsley, minced (garnish)
Directions The first step (and the cooking time) depends on whether your rice is already cooked.

  • Cooked rice: Heat 1 T oil over medium heat, then add onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add peppers, cumin, and salt and sauté another 5 minutes. Stir in the rice.
  • Uncooked rice: Heat 1 T oil over medium heat, then pan fry the rice, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes, until shiny. Stir in onion, garlic, peppers, cumin, and salt and sauté 2 more minutes. Add hot water, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer without stirring until water has evaporated and rice is cooked, about 25-30 minutes.

Transfer rice to a bowl and add the remaining oil to the pan. When it’s hot, add the rice, beans, and about ½ c of the reserved bean cooking water. Fry, stirring frequently, until hot, adding more water as needed to achieve desired consistency. Taste and add more salt, onion, and/or peppers to taste.

Garnish and serve hot.

Notes Gallo pinto will keep for at least 4 or 5 days in the fridge, and a month or more in the freezer, so don’t hesitate to make a big batch and then refrigerate or freeze it.

I love gallo pinto served alongside fried plaintains and sliced avocado.

Costa Ricans eat gallo pinto for breakfast with fried or scrambled eggs, or for lunch or dinner with meat or fish.

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Gallo pinto