Breakfast is the best meal of the day, and the people of Central America know how to do it right. I spent a lot of time backpacking around Central America, eating my fair share of gallo pinto every morning. I ate so much, that I couldn’t even look at a plantain for the past year without running in the other direction as if it were going to attack me. It’s possible that is a slight exaggeration, but it’s also possible that it’s not. Believe what you want.

It’s always exciting waiting for the plate of food to come. Everyone has their own variations of the dish. Some serve it with toast, some with cheese, some with avocado, some with plantains, some with all of those. No matter what is served on the plate, it’s always delicious. The two consistent ingredients are rice and beans. There is also a sauce called Lizano sauce, which is found everywhere in Costa Rica. You can purchase it online, or even the odd specialized grocery store. But, this recipe is still amazing without any added magical sauces.

If you’re looking for a filling breakfast to keep you going all day, I recommend throwing together some gallo pinto. It has a variety of flavors and textures, and is fairly inexpensive to make.

Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto
Serves 4
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
  1. 3 cups of cooked Rice (Brown or white work well)
  2. 1 Onion, diced
  3. 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  4. ½ Jalapeno
  5. ½ cup Carrot, shredded
  6. 1 Bell Pepper, diced
  7. 1 ½ tsp Salt
  8. ½ tsp Pepper
  9. 1 tbsp Coriander
  10. 1 tbsp Cumin
  11. 1 cup Water or Vegetable Stock *
  12. 2 cups of cooked Black or Kidney Beans
  13. Juice from ½ Lemon (About 1 Tbsp)
  14. ¼ cup fresh Cilantro, chopped
  1. Fried Plantains
  2. Toast
  3. Eggs
  1. If you have no leftover rice on hand, begin by cooking 1 cup of dry rice. Follow instructions on bag or box. You should end up with 3 cups of cooked rice.
  2. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and salt and cook until translucent (approx 5-7 minutes).
  3. Add garlic and jalapeno. Cook for a minute.
  4. Add green pepper and carrot. Add remaining spices. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add rice, beans, broth and lemon and cook until liquid is absorbed. Season with more salt if desired. Add cilantro before serving.
  6. To fry plantains, heat a pan over medium heat. Slice plantains 1/2″ in thickness, sprinkle with salt and fry in oil for 3-4 minutes per side.
  7. Serve with eggs and toast, or other sides of choice
  1. *If using stock instead of water, the amount of salt in the recipe may need to be lowered, depending on the amount of salt in the stock. I find by following the recipe exactly, using water, the recipe is perfectly seasoned.
What She Ate

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