When I was twenty, I spent the greater part of a year living in Costa Rica. I went there to take some time off from college, learn Spanish through immersion, and experience living in a different culture. I accomplished all of that, and as an unexpected bonus, I also learned to enjoy black beans!
I had always liked a variety of beans and lentils, but the black bean was an exception. In fact, I think it would be fair to say that I intensely disliked black beans. The first days of my homestay with with a local host family, however, made it clear that I was going to have to get over my aversion for the sake of both diplomacy and survival--black beans and rice appear in some form or other at almost every meal, and gallo pinto is the Costa Rican national dish.
Literally translated as "spotted rooster", gallo pinto is made by frying cooked rice and beans together with a few other ingredients. It is most commonly served for breakfast, often accompanied by fried or scrambled eggs, fried sweet plantains, and of course coffee. It's tasty, filling, healthy and cheap. If you use canned beans you can get a meal on the table pretty quickly, which is often critical when you have young children!
I made this for dinner the other night. As evidenced by the photo, the baby fussed to be held on my lap, apparently in order to grab large handfuls of gallo pinto off my plate in a frenzy of eating and smearing food all over the table! The whole family enjoyed it--I served it with some corn tortillas and fried eggs and a couple of slices of fresh white Mexican cheese.
Salsa Lizano is a Costa Rican condiment--I found it in my local Latin American grocery store, it's also available online. It can be left out or a smaller amount of Worcestershire sauce can be added to taste. Freshly cooked beans are best but canned beans are fine too.
2 cups cooked rice
2 cups cooked black beans, liquid reserved
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small red or yellow pepper, finely chopped
about 1/8 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
1 Tbsp Salsa Lizano, if desired, or Worcestershire sauce to taste
salt and black pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large skillet. When it is hot, saute the onions, garlic, pepper, and cilantro until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the beans and some of the bean liquid, salt, pepper, and Salsa Lizano or Worcestershire sauce if using and let them come to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for a few minutes. Mix in the rice, and cook stirring frequently for several minutes. The mixture should be slightly moist but not mushy. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve hot.