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Costa Rican Black Beans and Rice

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Costa Rican Black Beans and Rice

Costa Rican Black Beans and Rice

Jessica Braider
Costa Ricans eat a version of this dish, called Gallo Pinto (which translates as spotted rooster) with nearly every meal, but it’s especially typical to eat it for breakfast! It’s great comfort food for any season – the curry and lime give it a Caribbean flare (Costa Rica borders the Caribbean sea). For even more Caribbean flavor, cook the rice in half water and half coconut milk.
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Latin American
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 cup white rice or use quick-cooking brown rice
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper finely diced
  • 1 yellow onion finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced, about 1 1/2 tsp.
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 15 oz. reduced-sodium canned black beans with their liquid
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce for a vegetarian and gluten-free alternative use 6 drops hot sauce and 1/4 tsp. sugar per each Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, or use Salsa Lizano, if you have it (that’s what they use in Costa Rica)
  • 2 Tbsp. salsa look for brands with no sugar added, optional
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped (optional)
  • 1 lime cut into wedges for serving (optional)


  • Cook the rice with 2 cups of water according to the package directions. (The rice can be made up to a day in advance.)
  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, and sauté the bell peppers, onions, and garlic for about 5 minutes until they are fragrant and slightly tender.
  • While they are cooking, stir in the cumin and curry powder. Add the beans and their liquid, the Worcestershire sauce, and salsa (optional) and bring it to a boil.
  • Let the mixture simmer for about 5 more minutes.
  • Stir in the cooked rice and continue to cook it for about 3 more minutes until it is heated through. Stir in the cilantro, if desired, and serve it with the lime wedges (optional). Serve it immediately or refrigerate it for up to 3 days.

Slow Cooker Directions

  • Use 1/3 bag (1 cup) dried black beans rather than canned beans. Cover the beans with water to soak overnight and drain the next morning. (Or use the quick soak method: Bring beans and water to boil. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow beans to sit for an hour. Drain the water.) Sauté the vegetables and spices as directed above and add them to the slow cooker with the drained beans, Worcestershire sauce, salsa (optional), and 1 – 2 cups of water or to cover.
  • Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours or on high for 3 – 4 hours. Serve as above with cilantro and lime wedges, if desired. (Slow cooker cooking times may vary—Get to know your slow cooker and, if necessary, adjust cooking times accordingly.)


Do Ahead or Delegate: Cook the rice, dice the bell pepper and onion, chop the cilantro, cut the lime if using, or fully prepare and refrigerate the dish.
Scramble Flavor Booster: Double the curry powder, use spicy salsa, and/or sauté one diced hot pepper with the bell pepper.
Tip: While all beans are a great source of filling fiber and protein, when selecting beans, keep in mind that according to a study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, the darker the bean’s outer coat, the higher its level of antioxidants. Black beans were determined to have the most antioxidants followed in descending order by red, brown, yellow, and white beans. So, while you can never go wrong by incorporating beans into your meal, the darker the better!
Video: Watch Jessica make it on Facebook Live!
Nutritional Information Per Serving (% based upon daily values): Calories 342, Total Fat: 8g, 12%; Saturated Fat: 2g, 5%; Cholesterol: 0mg, 0%; Sodium: 444mg, 18%; Total Carbohydrate: 57g, 19%; Dietary Fiber: 6g, 24%; Sugar: 2g; Protein: 9g
Want to make beans from scratch? Check out our post on how to make beans in the slow cooker or Instant Pot pressure cooker.
Like this recipe? Check out The Scramble's family-friendly meal plans to see just how simple getting dinner on the table can be!
Keyword 30 Minutes (or less) Meals, Dairy-Free, Dinner, Fall, Gluten-Free, Kid-Friendly, Kosher, Main Dish, Make-Ahead, Nut-Free, Slow Cooker, Summer, Vegan, Vegetarian
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