Simple Foods put to Use

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Beans, rice, onions… Does it get any more basic than that?

While they might not be the most appealing to some, preservable foods are especially useful right now. With COVID-19 literally in the air, it’s nice to not have to go out for groceries as much (even though we get a lot of it online). In general, it’s not uncommon for people to have an extra, say box of pasta, can of chicken broth, etc in their kitchen/pantry. But since we’ve been sheltering-in-place for over two months, I’m guessing that some of you may have a surplus of these long lasting foods, justing sitting there (and that’s not a bad thing) at home. I recognize that COVID-19 is very unpredictable (we don’t have a very good estimate as to when it’s going to be over). However, if you’re thinking that maybe you have a little too many canned beans or you can’t stand the fact that everything’s “piling” up, I have the perfect recipe for you.

Are you missing some Mexican food? Do you want to eat something that is homemade, healthy, and delicious? Try making gallo pinto! As stated by the title, this meal is real simple. For the second time in a row, I want to give a big thank you to Mrs. Botto for kindly sharing this recipe with us. If you want to see my review on her amazing financier recipe, you can visit here. She told us that at few weeks ago, she was hosting a Costa Rican boarding student who loved and recommended this dish. It is from the student’s hometown and supposedly a local favorite.

The neat thing is that gallo pinto is made out of very preservable foods, and it stays preservable after the first day. Like I’ve said with many of the previous recipes featured on this blog, it can’t hurt to make a little extra for it serves as a quick, filling “leftovers” meal. What I really enjoy about this dish is that it’s very different. I’ve never had something quite like it, and that makes it taste all the better. You might think that the bland taste of rice and beans would make it boring, in a sense, but the flavor actually comes out quite a bit. It’s almost like you’re eating bean infused rice! Between the modest, yet deep taste and the softness of all the ingredients, I’d say that the gallo pinto really is a hit. So, if I haven’t said it enough in the past, really do try it out! It’ll be something new, and in a good way. And I’m pretty sure that you’ll be glad to have your simple foods put to use. Have a nice week!

Gallo Pinto (spotted Rooster)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup dried black beans-cooked (see below) or 1 can of organic black beans-but the dried beans are so much better in texture and flavor-totally worth the  extra effort!!!!!
1/2 cup water or bean cooking juice
1 cup long grain cooked rice-cooked (preferable cooled down or left over)
To Taste: salt, pepper, spicy pepper jelly, chopped cilantro and parsley for serving
1) In a cast iron skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook onions and bell pepper until soft and browned about 10 minutes
2) Add garlic, salt, pepper and spicy pepper jelly (Natalie’s is the best:)
3) Add cooked beans and reserved 1/2 cup bean cooking liquid as well as cooked long grain rice and simmer for about 5 minutes and slightly thickened and liquid is evaporated
4) Finish by garnishing with chopped cilantro and parsley
How I cook Dried Beans:
What type:  Traditionally only Black Bean but you can be adventurous and try a new variety such as:  Cannellini, Borlotti-Cranberry, Jacob’s Cattle, Pinto, Peruviano, etc.
How much:  1 cup of dried beans soak them in 2 cups of water in a glass bowl overnight.  The next morning rinse the beans one more time before cooking
In a soup pan add:  1 Tbs olive oil, 1/2 of an onion cut in quarters and 1 whole garlic clove cut in half
Herbs: whatever you have in your garden or fridge such as 1 branch of rosemary, 1 branch of oregano and a dash of love
Bouillon: add 2 cups of water and 1 tsp vegetable broth concentrate or about 1/2 tsp salt to taste
How long:  Bring to a boil, lower heat and partially close pan with top and cook for about 20-30 minutes or until beans are tender-just right:)
Note: My mom followed the recipe exactly, but we found that the beans were a little “hard”, which can contrast the soft rice/bell pepper taste. It might not be a bad idea to boil the beans a tad bit longer than usual.
Of course this is not required, if you’d like to make your dish more authentic, try serving it with freshly cut lettuce and a squeeze of lemon juice (we found that lime works well too). In Costa Rica, they also eat it with an egg (sunny side up). Lastly, this was not mentioned in the recipe, but I personally love hot sauce, so I usually eat this dish with some Tapatio, Cholula, or Tabasco. Enjoy!

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