Black Beans & Rice – Costa Rican Gallo Pinto is one of the famous and favorite traditional dishes of gorgeous Costa Rica. It’s a dish so versatile to the locals and can be served at almost any meal in Costa Rica, often eaten and enjoyed with fried eggs for breakfast or brunch or as a side dish along with seasoned meat, fried plantains, and salad for dinner.
The history of Gallo pinto is somewhat sketchy, and if you ask locals you will hear many varying stories from one local to another. Disputes can be heard running rampant among the Costa Ricans and the Nicaraguans about where the beloved traditional dish originated. Over the years, I have learned that most of the more traditional dishes in these regions were often influenced by 2 major cultures, the Spanish, and the Africans, both had key roles when it comes to the cuisine often being served on a day to day basis.
There are some variations of this traditional dish in other countries. Such as Moros y Cristianos (“Moors and Christians”) from Spain and Cuba, or just Moro. Another similar dish can be found in Panama and in El Salvador, where it is called casamiento.
Below you will find my version of the beloved Costa Rican Gallo Pinto with simple to find ingredients that will be at your local grocer in the produce and Latin foods section. If your grocer does not have a section dedicated to Latin Cuisine they should still have many of the ingredients in varies areas of the store.
- 2 cups of dried black beans soaked and cooked or canned
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 red sweet bell pepper diced
- 1 small Spanish onion finely diced
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/4 of a cup chopped cilantro + more for garnish
- 1/2 of a tablespoon of dried oregano
- 1/4 of a teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon of Costa Rican Salsa or Worcestershire sauce
- a dash of cayenne pepper
- kosher salt to own taste
- freshly ground black pepper to own taste
- 2 cups of cooked Tico style rice or white rice
Soak and cook dried beans according to package directions or use 2 cups of dried beans. Do not drain beans completely if cooked from dried beans keep at least 1 and 1/2 cups of the black water, if they are canned do not rinse beans.
Place a large metal frying pan on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Place cooked or canned black beans that you have reserved 1 and 1/2 cups of cooking water from the dried beans or the can of beans you have not rinsed, and, diced red sweet pepper and one small diced Spanish onion in the metal pan on medium heat, sauté till soft, then add 3 cloves of minced garlic to the metal frying pan,1/4 of a cup of chopped fresh cilantro, 1/2 of a tablespoon of dried oregano, 1/4 of a teaspoon of cumin, and 1 tablespoon of Costa Rican Salsa ” Lizano” or 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce a dash of cayenne, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer on very low heat about 25 minutes
Once the black bean mixture is done simmering add 2 cups of Tico Style rice or plain white rice to beans and combine together carefully as not to break up the rice.
Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.
Serve with a side of fried eggs and fried plantains for breakfast or as a side dish to your meal.