Spanish Immersion Costa Rica- Gallo Pinto Recipe
Posted by Jack Albritton on January 23, 2015
Local food is one of the greatest discoveries when traveling. Spanish immersion programs in Costa Rica, like ours at School of the World, just wouldn’t be complete without an explanation of the country’s favorite typical breakfast. At first glance you might say that it is just rice and beans, but before you leave Costa Rica you will know there’s more to it and you will be asking how to make Gallo Pinto. The name literally translates to “spotted rooster,” which comes from the spotted appearance the rice takes after being cooked with red or black beans. In Costa Rica it is black beans all the way when it comes to Gallo Pinto.
Most Ticos actually find it amusing when visitors make a big fuss and ask for the “secret” to making this national treasure. It is simply a breakfast staple to them, as beans and rice are a common part of their daily diet. You cook the beans, then you cook the rice and then you cook them together. They look at it like this because they have been making it and eating it their whole lives.
However, there are definitely those little family “secrets” and a whole lot of love that transforms simple beans and rice into something more than the sum of it’s parts. What better way to learn to make gallo pinto than from a native Costa Rican. Our lovely Spanish instructor Lucia was kind enough to share her recipe with us and got all of our Spanish students involved and doing a lab on the process. They practice their Spanish by learning the names of the various ingredients and processes in the kitchen and afterwards get to eat the results. So let’s go to the kitchen with Lucia and see her personal touch on this typical Costa Rican dish.
Lucia’s Gallo Pinto
Red sweet pepper
Salsa Lizano (optional)
First let the beans soak overnight so they get softer. Then chop some onion and cilantro, put them in a pot with the beans. Add some salt and a teaspoon of oil, then add water until it covers the beans. Cook until they are soft. Cook the rice by adding some onion, salt and a little oil in the pot. Cover the rice with water and then cover the pot with a lid. Cook until there are little holes forming in the rice. Mix the rice a little and let it rest for another five minutes.
To prepare the gallo pinto:
First chop onion, garlic, cilantro, sweet pepper, and celery. Put the onion, garlic and sweet pepper in a pan and fry them with a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Then add the rice and the beans and mix with a spoon. Also add a little bit of the beans’ sauce/liquid.
Add some salt and pepper.
Once it is heated, add the celery and cilantro and mix with all the ingredients.
Let it heat for a few more minutes and it is ready!
Optional: you can also add some “salsa Lizano” which is a sauce made of spices, very common in Costa Rica.
You can serve with eggs, sweet plantains, bread or tortillas for a traditional breakfast.