This recipe came from a blog called Seasonal & Savory, which no longer exists–that’s why I’m posting the recipe here! There are many recipes for Gallo Pinto online, but none of them seems to be quite like this recipe that my family has been enjoying for years. One thing we like about it is that the flavor is so different from another of our staple meals, Mexican-style beans & rice.
Gallo Pinto means “spotted rooster” in Spanish, and it’s also the name of a beans-and-rice dish popular in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Like many popular, affordable foods, it’s made differently in different subcultures or by different cooks. Many recipes for Gallo Pinto include peppers but not carrots; this one is the other way around. Some people make it with black beans, some with red beans. I’m not claiming this is an authentic recipe from any particular culture. This is the recipe we tried and loved and have kept making, every couple of months for at least 8 years–that’s how long ago it was first mentioned here in The Earthling’s Handbook.
This is a one-pot meal that’s vegan if you don’t put a fried egg on top and still vegetarian if you do. It’s easy to make in 40 minutes, and half of that time it’s just simmering while you do something else. It’s good hot or lukewarm, doesn’t spoil easily, and is free of common allergens, so it’s perfect for potluck dinners. This recipe makes a lot, but it reheats well for a quick lunch at home, or you can pack individual servings in reused jars to microwave for lunch at work or eat at room temperature on a picnic, or take a jar to a sick friend. It’s one of the many ways to use up a lot of grated carrots!
To make about 12 main-dish servings, you will need:
- 5 green onions (It’s okay to substitute a small yellow/white/red onion, but the flavor is a bit different.)
- 1 cup grated carrot (It’s fine if it was frozen and thawed.)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- Chile paste or hot sauce to taste (We typically use 2 Tbsp. sambal oelek [which is not Central American, but it tastes great in this recipe!] for a mildly spicy base to which individuals might add more heat.)
- 2 cups uncooked white rice
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups cooked red beans or pinto beans
- toppings for individual servings, as desired:
- fried egg
- lime juice
Chop onions. Grate carrot. Crush garlic.
In a large pot, heat oil and sauté onions, carrot, garlic, and chile paste over medium heat for a few minutes, “until fragrant,” which means the chile vapors are rising toward your face with the steam and the vegetables are getting lightly browned.
Add rice and mix it in. Turn heat to high, add water, stir, cover the pot, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15-20 minutes, until rice is cooked and water is absorbed.
Meanwhile, rinse the canning liquid or cooking water off the beans. When rice is ready, mix beans into it, cover the pot, turn off the burner, and let stand about 10 minutes so the beans warm up while you’re frying the eggs, cutting up cilantro and avocado, setting the table, etc.
Scoop rice mixture into your bowl and add toppings.
I like to fry my egg “over easy” so that the yolk is still liquid, and chop up the egg and mix all the ingredients in my bowl. Other people prefer to keep their bowl layered and break off a bit of egg to eat with each bite.
Nutrition Information: Without toppings, a serving has 214 calories, 7g protein, 66% of the Daily Value of Vitamin A, 22% of fiber, 20% of folate, 14% of thiamin, 34% of manganese, 22% of copper, 13% of iron, and a balanced roster of amino acids, according to the Happy Forks Recipe Analyzer. Add an egg, a quarter of an avocado, and 1 Tbsp. cilantro, and you’ve got 357 calories, 14g protein, 83% of the Daily Value of Vitamin A, 36% of fiber, 36% of folate, 19% of thiamin, 39% of manganese, 37% of copper, 19% of iron; you’ve approximately doubled levels of most of the aminos; and you’re getting 26% of the Daily Value of Vitamin B-12, more than 30% of B-2 and B-5, and 25% of Vitamin K–with only 14g of fat, less than 3g of which is saturated fat.
Those B vitamins are especially helpful to people who suffer from migraines, nerve pain, or premenstrual dysphoria. I have all of those, and this is a meal that really makes me feel good–and it has a very different flavor from my other reliable reviving meals, Honey Baked Lentils with baked squash/sweet potato and Masoor Dal with Carrots. Variety is delicious!
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