What is Gallo Pinto? Well, directly translated, it means spotted rooster in Spanish. What it actually is, is a staple black beans and rice dish from Costa Rica.
A few years ago, I did a homestay in Costa Rica for a few weeks to practice my Spanish. I stayed in the city of Liberia which is not a tourist destination (the beaches around it are though!) and so English is not widely spoken there. I stayed with a lovely couple, Iris and Johnny, saw some pretty beautiful sites, spoke mostly Spanish and ate A LOT of Gallo Pinto. Most of the time, it was eaten as at least part of both breakfast and supper.
While staying with them, Iris taught me how to make it but after eating it twice a day every day on my trip, it took me almost a year to decide to make it at home. Now though, I enjoy making it from time to time, usually for brunch, and reminiscing about Costa Rica.
- Olive Oil- Another neutral cooking oil (Iris used vegetable oil) or butter could also be used.
- Onion- You can use a white or yellow onion. Or you could use a red onion in a pinch.
- Rice- Feel free to use brown rice or a short grain rice if you that's what you have. This recipe is a great way to use up leftover rice!
- Black Beans- These are key. The first time that I tried to make gallo pinto at home, I used canned black beans and they didn't cut it. If you decide to try this recipe, be sure to make this black bean recipe. The cooking liquid adds a lot of the flavor to this dish so reserve 1-2 tablespoon and do not rinse the beans after you cook them.
- Sea Salt
- Sauté onions.
- Stir in rice.
- Stir in black beans.
This meal works best with rice and beans that have already cooked and cooled but they could be made at the start of the recipe if needed. You can make the rice and beans up to 3 days in advance.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat with a splash of water in the microwave or on the stove.
Or try repurposing the leftovers as the base of some burrito bowls! Add some shredded chicken, salsa, avocado and cheese for a quick and tasty lunch.
How to Serve
When I stayed with Iris and Johnny, she served it a variety of different ways! Sometimes it was:
- All on its own
- With fresh corn tortillas
- Topped with an egg
- With a side of Crispy Baked Sweet Plantains or tostones
- Alongside some fried cheese (I'm not sure what exactly she used but I think Halloumi would be comparable)
If you have dietary restrictions, check the packaging of specific ingredients that you use to ensure they are compliant. This recipe is:
- Dairy Free
- Gluten Free
- Nut Free
Let me know in the comments below if you try out this Costa Rican dish! And why you think it might be called "spotted Rooster".
And if you liked this recipe...
...you might also like:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion diced (about 1 cup)
- 3 and ½ cups cooked long grain white rice (1 and ½ cups uncooked)
- 1-2 tablespoon water
- 2 cups Black Beans reserve 1-2 tablespoon of cooking liquid and do not rinse the cooked beans (see post notes for using canned beans)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- baked plantains
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until softened.
- Add rice and 1-2 tablespoon of water as needed to the skillet and cook until warmed through, stirring frequently.
- Stir in beans (including the reserved liquid) and salt, and continue to heat until warmed through.
- Serve immediately with desired sides and toppings.
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