Meatless Monday: Black Beans and Rice (“Gallo Pinto”)

It wasn’t until I started traveling that I really appreciated beans and rice. But ever since I spent that month in Costa Rica, things have never been the same. What I love is that I can throw together a big batch at the beginning of the week and keep it in the fridge for future meals! Breakfast? Throw some fried eggs over it. Lunch? Beans and rice over a bed of spinach. Dinner? A heaping plate will fill me up even on the longest and hungriest of days.

Looks tastier than a Big Mac, to me!

Looks tastier than a Big Mac, to me!

In Costa Rica, you can even get beans and rice from McDonalds!

Now I’ll admit that what follows isn’t some magical recipe shared with me by the fabulous women from the kitchen at Piro Biological Station. It’s just a recipe I’ve concocted from various internet sources and my own trial and error (as you’ll learn, this is where most of my recipes come from). I apologize in advance for any measurements that seem vague, but I’m just not one to sit there with a measuring spoon to quantify every detail of my meal! Feel free to play around, adding and subtracting ingredients as you’d like- that’s the joy of cooking!

Simple One-Pot Rice and Beans

-From stove to meal in under an hour!
-Makes a LOT! Number of servings depends on whether you treat it as a side or as the entire meal, but I usually get at least 5 or 6 meals worth out of this.


3 cups uncooked rice

1 can beans (15oz) black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans- whatever you want!

1 small-medium onion, chopped

3 medium-large cloves garlic, chopped

A couple of tablespoons of oil (olive, avocado, or really any other cooking oil should work fine)

Salt, pepper, and cilantro to taste

Optional add-ins: Bell peppers, tomatoes, etc.

Topping Ideas

Sliced avocado

Greek yogurt (a higher-protein alternative to sour cream!)

Cheddar cheese


Hot sauce

Lizano Salsa- if you can find it!


1. Heat up the oil in a large saucepan (you will eventually have everything in this pan, so make sure it will fit).

2. Add the onions, and once they start to turn translucent, the garlic.

3. When the garlic is slightly toasted, add the can of black beans (and whatever add-ins you have selected) and stir well. Do NOT drain the water from the black beans before adding them!

4. Bring to a boil, and allow this to simmer for a few minutes (this step depends on how much patience you have, but it allows the flavors to meld, so try and be patient).

5. Add your rice and ~6 cups of water. Stir well and bring back up to a boil.

6. Allow it to cook until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally. This usually takes about half an hour.

7. Remove from heat, scoop into plate, and enjoy!

What a happy breakfast!

What a happy breakfast!

Pictured is my version of the Costa Rican “plato typico” breakfast- gallo pinto and a fried egg covered in Lizano salsa with fruit on the side!

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