Latin Americans take breakfast pretty seriously.
Whether it’s fruit and hojaldres, a full Venezuelan breakfast or just a stack of pancakes, they know how to power themselves through the day with a delicious plate full of goodness–and there’s no Latin American breakfast that’s better for you than Gallo Pinto.
Following the Central American traditional of naming foods in a way that’s less than appealing (“ropa vieja”, which is shredded steak in a tomato sauce, means “old clothes”), Gallo Pinto means “spotted rooster” and is thus named for the speckled look of this dish thanks to the rice and beans.
Rice and beans are the two constants in this dish, and the cumin and ginger play a part in Gallo Pinto’s distinctive flavour, but from that base you can play around with the additions as you like. I love red pepper in the morning, so I add diced red pepper in with the onions and garlic and for me, this is just perfect.
There are also no boundaries on what Gallo Pinto can be served with. I love to serve mine with steamed mustard greens or roasted tomatoes, but avocado is always a great choice too.
Just make sure you don’t get between a Costa Rican and a Nicaraguan when they’re fighting over whose country invented this dish. It could get messy!
3/4 cup rice
1 red pepper, diced
1 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 can black beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
fresh cilantro, chopped
1 ripe avocado (optional)
Place the rice in a pan with 1/2 cups water and cook for around 20 minutes until the rice is tender and the water is all absorbed
About 5 minutes before the rice is ready, heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook the onion, garlic and red pepper for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent
Add in the beans, cumin, ginger and soy sauce, then add in the cooked rice and stir to mix thoroughly
Add in the fresh cilantro and continue cooking until the red pepper is tender and everything is combined
Serve with fresh sliced avocado and season with salt and pepper
You can also do this the hardcore way by starting with dried beans, soaking them overnight then cooking them down over a few hours before draining and saving in the fridge. However, this isn’t really conducive to a quick breakfast, which is why I used canned beans.
Gallo Pinto is the kind of dish that can be served the next morning too, after a day in the fridge, but be sure to heat the rice thoroughly to ensure you don’t get sick.
Serve this with a cup of coffee with coconut milk and you’ll have a true taste of Latin culture right in your breakfast!