Traditional Costa Rica recipes
One of the wonderful aspects of traveling in Costa Rica is sampling the nation’s diverse selection of traditional foods. Many recipes rely heavily on fresh produce, which is complemented by staples like rice, beans and tortillas (both corn and flour). The unofficial national dish – gallo pinto – is a meal that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and often accompanies scrambled eggs, farmer’s cheese and homemade tortillas.
Picadillo (pronounced pee-kah-DEE-yoh ) is another favorite regional dish made of seasoned vegetables, onions and peppers, with non-vegetarian varieties incorporating ground beef or sausage. Our top pick is made with chayote (chah-YO-tay) – also known as the vegetable pear. Part of the gourd family, chayote is bland like a potato, and achieves a delectably soft texture when boiled or fried.
We hope you enjoy these two traditional Costa Rican recipes, both of which can be tweaked for an original spin on authentic flavors.
Gallo Pinto recipe – Serves 6
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 small white onion, finely chopped
- 1-2 garlic cloves, diced
- 3 cups (day old) cooked white rice
- 2 cups of canned or cooked black beans, rinsed
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 4 tsp. of fresh chopped cilantro
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 3-4 tablespoons of Lizano sauce (Worcestershire sauce can be used in a pinch)
- salt & black pepper to taste
- fresh cilantro for garnish
- Tablespoon of sour cream or natilla (optional)
- In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium heat
- Add onion and minced garlic and fry on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until onion is almost translucent
- Add day-old rice and continue to sauté for another 2-3 minutes
- Add spices and Lizano sauce, mixing thoroughly
- Next, add the beans and combine all ingredients well, cook for another 1 minute
- Remove from heat, and add fresh cilantro and salt and pepper to taste
- Garnish with a hearty dollop of sour cream or natilla, and sprinkle with extra cilantro
- Best when served hot
Chayote Picadillo recipe- serves 8
- 6 whole chayote
- 1 medium white or yellow onion
- 2 cups milk
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn
- 2 stalks of celery
- 2 bell peppers
- 1 cup cilantro
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Dice the garlic and onion finely, and chop the bell pepper into bite-size pieces. Heat with butter over medium heat until onions are golden brown.
- Rinse, peel and pit the chayote and slice into small cubes. Add to the pan along with diced celery and milk and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
- Add the corn, cilantro, cumin and salt and pepper. Mix well. Cook for another 5-7 minutes on low heat.
- Serve alongside rice or on a flour tortilla.
- Optional: For an extra kick, add ground beef or spicy sausage in the first step.