If you want to tickle your taste buds at dinnertime, and give your cholesterol problem a good smack down, the traditional and tasty cuisine of Costa Rica is for you. These recipes for Costa Rica’s national dish, the casado, and Gallo Pinto, the equally wonderful breakfast dish will definitely perk up mealtime at your house.
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Consider the casado.
Costa Rica is the land of rice and beans. Casado means “marriage” in Spanish, and the term fits well. The casado, a blend of rice and beans, is simple to prepare. It is usually served with a small piece of chicken, pork or fish, a side order of platanos (plantains) and a salad of your choice.
Some cooks like to use green plantains, but I think plantains are best when they are on their way to turning black. At this stage, they look like large overripe yellow and black bananas, and this is when they are the sweetest.
The nicest thing about the casado is that you can use different kinds of beans. You can even blend different varieties, and with only a few spices, it’s delicious. You’ll see that the whole thing truly is a marriage of ingredients.
Let’s get cooking!
· 2 cups of black or red beans, which will need to be soaked for 6-8 hours. · 2 cups of rice, boiled gently until all of the water is absorbed. · 2 large garlic bulbs. · One large yellow onion. · Your favorite mildly hot pepper, diced. · 1 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped. · 2 tablespoons of fresh oregano. A tablespoon of dried oregano can be substituted if needed. · 1 large tomato, chopped. · 1 package of small corn tortillas. · 2 large, ripe plantains. · 2 pieces of chicken, pork, or fish. Beef can also be used. Add your favorite marinade, then refrigerate for an hour or two. · ½ cup vinegar. · 1 tablespoon cinnamon. · 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper. · 2 tablespoons olive oil.
I like to also add 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper and a teaspoon of curry, which really add a lovely zing to the casado.
This recipe makes approximately 4 servings.
Here’s how to get things off to a good start:
In a large frying pan, on a low heat, add the olive oil. Add half of the garlic bulb, finely chopped, and half of the onion, chopped.
2. Turn the heat to medium and cook the meat until it is lightly browned on both sides. 3. Add just enough water to cover it. Place a lid over the frying pan and simmer the meat until it is tender. Place the meat aside. 4. Now it’s time to prepare the plantain. Slice them just as you would a stalk of celery, with each slice about ¼ inches wide. 5. In a separate frying pan toss in a tiny bit of olive oil and add the vinegar and cinnamon. Many cooks don’t add vinegar or cinnamon when cooking plantain, but I have found that these two ingredients really liven up the flavor. 6. Cook them until they are lightly brown on both sides.
Let the marriage begin.
7. Add the rest of the garlic and onions to the pan that you used to cook the meat in. 8. Simmer until they are lightly browned. 9. Add the beans, rice, tomato, mildly hot pepper, cilantro and oregano. 10. On the sides of the frying pan, add the meat and the plantains. 11. Let simmer for 10 minutes. 12. Enjoy!
Gallo Pinto is another sumptuous dish that is made using left over rice and beans. It’s usually served as a breakfast dish, but I think it’s wonderful to eat at any time of the day.
For a good Gallo Pinto recipe, contact my friend Tao Watts, who owns Samaritan Xocolata, located on Costa Rica’s lush Osa Peninsula, right here (www.everydayanadventureeverymealafeast.blogspot.com)
If you learn these recipes, your taste buds and your heart will thank you.