The Global Table: Costa Rican Gallo Pinto
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The Global Table: Costa Rican Gallo Pinto

As you might have figured out by now, a big part of traveling is food. It’s the great connector—shaping our memories and cultivating community. Friends and strangers alike share their cultural traditions, their favorite foods, and their most treasured recipes.

Surely, you’ll have some unforgettable meals on one of Rustic Pathways’ high school summer travel programs, but if you can’t wait for your trip to begin, here’s a recipe you can prepare at home.

Students have some fun over dinner on Spanish Language Immersion in Costa Rica.

Students have some fun over dinner on Spanish Language Immersion in Costa Rica.

If you’ve ever been to Costa Rica, you most definitely have eaten gallo pinto. Almost every Latin American country has a version of rice and beans, and in Costa Rica it’s this dish. The name gallo pinto literally translates to spotted hen—its appearance defined by its speckled black and white color. You’ll find this dish in every home and many restaurants across the country. It’s the national dish of Costa Rica, after all.

Gallo pinto is most commonly eaten for breakfast. It can be accompanied by a fried egg, sweet plantains, sausage, or fried cheese. But don’t let that stop you from making it as a side for lunch or dinner. Gallo pinto is always tasty.

What makes it particularly delicious is the secret ingredient, Salsa Lizano. You can find it at most Latin American markets, and if you can’t find it at the store, it’s available online at Amazon.

Pura vida and buen provecho!

Gallo Pinto, Costa Rica’s national dish.

Gallo Pinto

Prep time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4, as a side

4 cups of cooked long grain rice
2 cups of cooked black beans with half a cup of broth
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup of chopped white onion
1 chopped chile dulce (sweet pepper)
3 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/2 cup of Salsa Lizano
1 tsp butter or oil

To serve
Fried egg
Sweet plantains

  • Fry the garlic on high for about 2 minutes in a large frying pan. Lower the heat and add butter or oil, pepper, 1 tablespoon of cilantro and onion. Sauté for a couple minutes.
  • Add beans with the broth and Salsa Lizano. You can add more or less Salsa Lizano depending on how you like it. Bring to a boil for about 1 minute.
  • Lower heat, add rice. Simmer for about 20 minutes, mixing occasionally until all the excess liquid is absorbed.
  • Stir in fresh cilantro and serve!

Follow along with The Global Table for more food tips, stories, and recipes.

About the Author

Naomi Tao

Creative Lead and Graphic Designer

Born in London and raised in St. Louis, Naomi learned the importance of global citizenship and community building at an early age. Her passion for these things and her love of travel led her to Rustic —first as a student and again in 2013 after graduating from the University of Southern California with degrees in fine art and marketing. When Naomi is not managing the Rustic Pathways brand or packing her bags for yet another adventure, you can find her learning about sustainable agriculture, cultivating fruits and vegetables in her garden, or catering intimate dinner parties for family and new friends.