"Blond" Gallo Pinto

"Blond" Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto is the national dish of both Costa Rica and Nicaragua. In Nicaragua it is typically made with red beans and in Costa Rica with black (which are bought from Nicaragua). The poorer you are the more times a day you eat Gallo Pinto -- three times a day for a large percentage of the people. Why? Because it is the cheapest nutritious food.

So, what is it? Traditionally it is yesterday's left over beans and yesterday's left over rice with any vegetables you have laying around. Besides being nutritious it can be very tasty. For those of us who can afford more than the basics, you can add an assortment of veggies and spices to offer an extremely tasty meal.

While there is no real recipe, using between 1/4 and 1/3 as much beans as rice will give you optimal nutrition. As for vegetables, I like to add garlic, onion, something green such as broccoli or zucchini, something red such as red bell pepper and anything else interesting such as carrot or even mung bean sprouts. Just fry up the veggies in a bit of oil, add the spices you like and the leftover beans and rice. Stir for a few minutes and you have a tasty meal.

So, what's this "blond" thing? Instead of using red or black beans I used garbanzos. The first time I did this was when I had no red or black beans in the house but had some left over garbanzos. I had low expectations but it was a tasty change. I have made it a few times since -- usually inspired by cooking a pound of garbanzos for felafil but not using them all.

In the batch in the picture the ingredients are red onion, garlic, chaya, broccoli, camote and snap peas spiced with salt, black pepper, comino, red chili flakes and soy sauce. Give it a try being creative with your leftovers.