From the ingredients used to prepare the dish to the conversations spoken amongst those eating it, food is truly a form of art. It is an element that helps distinguish traditions, defines cultures, and simply brings people together. Accustomed to my own way of life, I did not realize the significance of food until I was exposed to a different environment. While studying abroad in Costa Rica, I experienced food in a more intimate way because of the efforts put into it as well as the fervid communication that seemed to enhance its quality. To my pleasant surprise, people took their time to appreciate the meals they shared with others because creating a foundation for a relationship was more important than the passing time.
A meal I had frequently while traveling throughout Costa Rica was the traditional Costa Rican “Gallo Pinto.” The friendships and memories created with this dish makes it a personal favorite of mine. Its simplicity in ingredients and flavorful taste can be enjoyed at any time of the day. All it takes is 15-20 minutes to prepare. Continue reading for the simple recipe.
Gallo Pinto Recipe
1 lb. cooked black beans
1 tablespoon of cilantro (fresh)
1 small or medium onion
3 cups of vegetable broth or water
2 cups of cooked white rice
½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of pepper
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
½ cup of red or yellow sweet pepper
Lizano sauce (optional, available at any Latin American specialty store)
To begin, cook the 2 cups of white rice unless you already have cooked rice ready. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a large skillet over medium heat; add onions and sauté until caramelized. Once sautéed, add chopped cilantro and sweet pepper to the skillet. Combine the mixture with vegetable broth, cooked black beans, and the white rice. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid, and reduce to low heat to simmer the flavors together for 5 minutes. Finally, stir in a ½ teaspoon each of salt, pepper, and Lizano sauce (can be purchased at any Latin American specialty store). To really capture the essence of the Costa Rican cuisine, eat it with a side of fresh fruit, hand-cut vegetables, and homemade bread.