Gallo Pinto Recipe (beans and rice)

Today’s recipe ingredient topic, is Lizano “Salsa” Sauce.

Last month, I mentioned my boss went to Costa Rica for her nephew’s wedding. She came back talking about a beans and rice dish that she had for breakfast practically every day. It’s called Gallo Pinto (beans and rice). She made us all a huge batch to try last week, served with a Lizano sauce (salsa).

Lizano sauce was created in Central America by Prospero Lizano, who was passionate about cooking.  The sauce is a unique blend of carefully selected vegetables and condiments, which gives meals like the Gallo Pinto a special flavor and characteristic aroma that only Lizano sauce can offer.  It’s the perfect condiment for cooking, seasoning and enhancing the flavor of chicken, beef, pork, fish, soups, eggs, beans and any of your favorite dishes.

The weekly menu at our house  usually has a beans and rice dish at least once a week.  When I map out dinner for the week, sometimes  I add it as a side dish or as the main dish with a salad. I make my own pinto beans or black beans as much as possible in the crock pot.  The bagged beans are always on sale and cost less when you’re making a huge batch. I sometimes find great deals on a variety of canned beans at Winco or when the main grocery stores here have them on sale 10 for $10.

Gallo Pinto is a delicious and healthy dish. It’s a very popular meal in Costa Rica. I read in Costa Rica, Ticos look at you like you’re a little crazy if you ask how to make it; sort of like if you asked a Brit how to make a cup of tea. Everyone knows you just cook the beans, cook the rice, and then cook them together!

Gallo Pinto (beans and rice) Recipe ~This is your typical Costa Rican breakfast dish!


  •  1 lb (450 gr.) Black beans. Fresh are best but most likely you’ll find them dried.
  • 8-10 sprigs cilantro (coriander leaf) fresh or frozen, not dried!
  • 1 small or medium onion
  • ½ small red or yellow sweet pepper (optional)
  • 3 cups (700 ml) chicken broth or water
  • 2 cups (350 ml) white rice
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1-3 Tablespoon oil to fry the Gallo Pinto


  • If beans are dried, cover with water and soak overnight, if they are fresh, just rise them off. Drain the beans and add fresh water to an inch (2.5-cm) above the top of the beans, salt, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce heat to very low simmer until beans are soft (~3 hours).
  • Chop cilantro, onion, and sweet pepper very fine.
  • Add 1 Tablespoon oil to a large pan and sauté the dry rice for 2 minutes over medium high flame then add half of the chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro and sauté another 2 minutes. Add water or chicken broth, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer until rice is tender (20-35 minutes). This is also the recipe for Tico rice used in other favorites like tamales.
  • Once the rice and beans are cooked you can refrigerate or freeze them. Keep a significant amount of the “black water” with the beans (½-1 cup 120-240 ml). This is what gives the rice its color and some of its flavor. Sauté the rice, beans reserved chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro together in vegetable oil for a few minutes. Sprinkle with a little fresh chopped cilantro just before serving.
  • Once the rice and beans are cooked you can also refrigerate or freeze them. Make up small batches of Gallo Pinto when you want it by simply sautéing them together.

In Guanacaste they sometimes use small very hot red peppers instead of or in addition to the sweet. Some people add a tablespoon or so of salsa Lizano or Chilera to the beans while they’re cooking.



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