Gallo Pinto, literally “Painted Rooster” in English is the national dish of Costa Rica. Variations of it can be found all across Central and South America and the Caribbean Islands. It is unclear how this dish got named, perhaps because it looks so colorful with all its ingredients combined. It is one of my favorite rice and bean dishes!
So, when I discovered black “Morro” heirloom beans on my California trip, I just had to bring a couple of bags home with me. These beans cooked up perfectly in my slow cooker, tender, yet firm to the bite.I got to work in my kitchen, making Gallo Pinto.
Here is the recipe. The exact amounts are somewhat flexible, but you should most definitely get a bottle of Salsa Lizano, a tasty sauce made from spices and herbs. It has a bit of a tang and really adds the perfect flavor to Gallo Pinto. The sauce can be hard to find, but it is available on Amazon. That’s where I get mine.
- about 3 cups of cooked black beans cooked your favorite way (canned are fine, just rinse them well)
- about 3 cups of cooked rice, cold and grains separated (I use a white long grain or basmati)
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- a few cloves of chopped garlic
- a chopped fresh chile pepper or two (I buy lots during the summer and freeze them finely chopped for winter)
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped (yellow or orange or any combination looks nice too)
- 1 heaping tablespoon of ground cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- Salsa Lizano
- a teaspoon or two of liquid smoke (I like Wright’s, no preservatives and additives)
- chopped fresh cilantro
- olive oil
In a large pan, heat some olive oil and sauté the onions until they start to soften and get a bit of color.
Add the garlic, cumin, chile pepper and bell peppers and sauté over medium high heat until fragrant and the vegetables are beginning to soften.
Add the rinsed, drained beans and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring gently every so often.
Add the rice, mix and cook a few more minutes.
Next, add the liquid smoke, a generous 1/3 to 1/2 cup of Salsa Lizano, a bit salt to taste and some freshly ground pepper.
If the mixture seems too dry, you can add a bit (less is better) of water, or if you cooked your own beans, a bit of the bean broth.
Continue to cook until everything is nice and hot, and the flavors have mingled.
Turn off the flame, and mix in the chopped cilantro, saving a bit for the top.
We enjoy Gallo Pinto with chopped avocado or guacamole, a tomato salad, some homemade salsa fresca and chips, and lots of my pickled jalapeños. I also put the bottle of Salsa Lizano on the table, so people can add more to their dinner if they like.
Gallo Pinto makes great leftovers too, eaten plain, wrapped in a tortilla, put into a crunchy taco shell with some finely chopped cabbage, … you get the idea. Enjoy!