Wednesday, April 7

Gallo pinto

I was worried that I wouldn't have much vegan food to eat when we visited Costa Rica a few years ago. I couldn't have been more wrong. The national dish, gallo pinto, is a fresh, spicy (as in spices, not heat) take on rice and beans, and is usually made without animal products, meat, dairy, or wheat.

While not necessary, Lizano sauce makes for an authentic tang. If you can't find it, use vegan Worcestershire sauce, any flavor of Tabasco, or your favorite salsa. You can also make your own Worcestershire sauce substitute.

Gallo pinto

Gallo pinto

vegan, gluten-free


  • 2 tbsp peanut oil, divided
  • 2 black, very ripe plantains, sliced
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, run through the garlic press or minced
  • 1/2 cup soyrizo

    You could also make your own or use another brand, but be careful-- Lightlife's has wheat gluten in it.
  • 2 cups cooked rice

    I used a leftover blend of brown and Japanese white short-grain
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup corn, frozen works well
  • 2 cups lacinato or Tuscan kale

    Any green will do-- spinach, or even broccoli, asparagus, etc. Whatever sounds good to you!
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 a red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1/2 tsp coriander, ground
  • 1/4 cup Lizano sauce
  • cilantro, about 2 tbsp fresh, diced
  • oregano, about 1 tsp fresh, diced or 1/2 tsp dried


  • Fry plantains while making the main dish. Heat 1 tbsp oil in frying pan on medium heat. Fry plantains til fully brown, about 10-15 minutes. Flip, fry on other side 5-10 minutes. Set aside off heat when done.
  • Saute onions in 1 tbsp oil on medium heat in a stir fry pan or wok, about 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic, saute 1-2 minutes.
  • Add soyrizo, turn up heat a little, saute til just starting to brown.
  • Add cooked rice, mixing thoroughly.
  • Juice half of the lime into the pan, add the corn and greens, stir fry til green become brightly verdant.
  • Turn heat to low, add the rest of the ingredients except for the fresh herbs and the other half of the lime. Mix and heat through, about 5 minutes.
  • When everything is nice and hot, turn off heat, squeeze the rest of the lime over the dish, stir in cilantro and oregano, and serve with plantains on the side. Tofutti sour cream, guacamole, and fresh-grilled corn tortillas make great accompaniments.

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Photos, original recipes and text © Susan Kelley 2012. All rights reserved. Please credit me and link back to this site, or ask first.

Always read ingredient labels carefully (and re-read periodically) to make sure that products actually are vegan and/or gluten-free.