Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gallo Pinto (Rice & Beans, Costa Rican Style)

I met some pretty fantastic people while I was in college. Heck, I married one. The friends I still keep in contact with are kindred spirits and one day, when we are very old, very gray-haired (hmmm...a milestone I've already tackled), toothless, and achy, we'll share a porch-swing at some old folks home near the everglades. Ok, probably not the everglades. Maybe New England, near the ocean. If I somehow earn a boat-load of money between now and then.

My friend Zaida will be on that porch with us (wherever it is). She'll be the one cracking jokes, making sure our lap blankets are on just right, mixing up some antacid cocktails, and zinging me about my socks not matching my panty hose.

Even though we are currently separated by many States, I know if I ever needed her, she'd be here. And she'd bring a big pot of gallo pinto to comfort me. Zaida is Costa Rican, and when it comes to cooking, she can throw. it. down. She taught me to make this dish our senior year, and I now keep the ingredients on hand at ALL TIMES. This is that go-to, I don't have time, I need comfort food-stat, type meal.

Growing up, we always cooked our rice and beans separately (beans were always frijole style). But...once they hit the plate, their marriage was inevitable. Rice and beans are just made for each other...

This rice and beans dish is one of the easiest things I now know how to make. And it's actually pretty insane that something so simple, tastes so amazing. And since I learned Zaida's trick of serving it with a fried egg on top - I can't eat it any other way. When you split the warm yolk over the rice, it adds richness and a buttery flavor to the entire dish. A nice side salad makes this meal complete!

Thanks, Zaida, for sharing this recipe with me, so I could share with others (hi, mom!), and open their eyes to the power and simplicity of rice and beans - together - how nature intended.

Gallo Pinto

1 can black beans (drained)
1 cup rice (see instructions below - also works well with left over rice)
1 med onion chopped (I also add two cloves garlic, minced. shhh...don't tell her!)
1-2 tsp cumin (I had 3 or 4 sometimes, depending on my mood)
Chopped cilantro (to taste)

1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan on medium heat
2. Saute onions (and garlic) until soft, about 5 mins
3. Add beans, cumin and cilantro
4. Add cooked rice
Mix all together and let cook for a minute or two so the flavors come together.
Add salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Rice - if you don't have a rice cooker, obviously!

The ratio my mom taught me: 1 extra cup liquid to every cup of rice. So, if you are making one cup of rice, add two cups liquid. Making two cups of rice, add three cups of liquid, etc. For gallo pinto, I usually use one cup of rice (2 cups liquid), but I have been known to frequently double the recipe above, ;)

Add rice and liquid to a medium pot that has a tight fitting lid
Heat rice and liquid over high heat until boiling
The second it comes to a rolling boil (a heavy boil, not a simmering boil) lower heat to low and cover
Cook for approx 15 mins and fight the urge to peak! Do not stir!
Peak at 15 mins. When the rice is cooked through the liquid will be gone, and the rice will be tender when taste tested. If it's still hard, cover again and let cook for a few more minutes.
When cooked, turn the heat off and move to a cool burner. Keep covered until ready to serve.
Fluff with a fork before serving (I use a fork to serve it, actually.)


  1. it took me awhile to figure out how to comment. No comment on that please.
    So honored to have made your blog, really. Cant wait till we're on those rockers, hopefully we still have the ability to cook some good food together. Love ya.

  2. Hope to share your sazon and tostones soon!