If you are going to Costa Rica, I hope you like rice and beans. You’re gonna get A LOT of them! My time in Costa Rica included kayaking, hiking, zip lining, and horseback riding – all things that make you insanely hungry. Rice and beans were the perfect solution.
If you ready to start, follow this Rice and beans recipe. Stick with me to hear a little about my visit to Costa Rica and why I chose rice and beans.
My Costa Rica experience
Costa Rica made a great Thanksgiving adventure. This was my first big vacation with B (you know, the crushing heart-break mentioned in the intro post). It surely was an adventure. We traveled in November to avoid the torrential downpours. No luck – It rained continuously. I’m not sure the rain was to blame for the blow-out fight or stolen wallet, but it didn’t help. All is well that ends well, and the trip ended in blissful happiness and some new-found outdoor skills.
Canyoning, zip lining, and horseback riding were all new to me in 2009. Lesson learned – I absolutely hate white-water rafting. Our raft flipped and all 6′ 4″ of B crashed into me and pushed me into a hole. The kind of hole that spins you around like a rag doll and you think you are going to die. Yeah, not fun. Thankfully, I’m still here to tell the story, but I was inconsolable for hours.
We traveled with a friend of mine and her boyfriend who owns Discover Outdoors. They don’t offer a Costa Rica trip at the moment, but I would recommend them for any adventure vacation. To see a similar trip, check out Costa Rica on the Taste bud travels page.
Why rice and beans for Costa Rica?
Rice and beans really is at the center of all meals in Costa Rica. I don’t want to just learn the dishes, I want to find the best preparation. You’ll see I took a creative approach here by cooking rice and beans four different ways.
An Austin Costa Rica experience
My friend Chris joined me for this adventure. He’ll eat most anything (so long as it is properly refrigerated, he’s weird about that). Chris and I have been friends for several years, but I remember this night as when we really began developing a friendship outside of our big gaggle of friends. You’ll see lots of Chris – especially as (spoiler alert) he’s now dating one of my best girlfriends.
Inspirational rice and bean recipe
Whole Foods is the original home of this rice and beans recipe. I made tons of changes to their recipe in an attempt at mastery.
Essential kitchen skills for rice and beans
Tweaks and cautionary tales
I used dry beans – not canned. To speed things up, I brought them to a boil and let them sit for an hour before cooking fully. With 15 mins left to cook, I added onions, Worcestershire, and spices. I also added a fried egg and poached, shredded chicken. I cooked both quinoa and brown rice.
How to make this healthier
The quinoa recipe is actually pretty healthy. The shredded chicken with quinoa is the healthiest option here, but I prefer quinoa with a fried egg.
- Learning Curve: mild
- Pre-work: pre-soak beans
- Vegetarian: can be
- Healthy: yes
- Freezes well: yes
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 6 tablespoons chopped cilantro, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- ½ red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 cups of dried black beans
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 eggs
- 1 large breast of chicken
- Cook black beans per package instructions. To speed up the process, bring the beans to a boil, then reduce heat and let sit for one hour. Bring back to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Add garlic, onions, peppers, Worcestershire. Return to a low boil for 15 minutes, then keep warm.
- Poach the chicken breast (how to in section above) if you are going to use chicken. Once the chicken is poached. use a fork to pull it apart. Set this aside.
- Decide if you will cook just rice, just quinoa, or both. You will need two cups total. I'll include instructions for half quinoa and half rice.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium pot over medium high heat. Add rice and cook, stirring often, until opaque, about 2 minutes. Cook rice according to package directions.
- Cook quinoa according to package directions.
- Remove both pots from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes, then uncover and fluff rice with a fork. Set aside.
- Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the cilantro, garlic, onions, peppers, and salt and pepper and stir well. Cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add drained black beans to onion mixture and mix well.
- Split mixture into two halves in skillets. Add the rice to one batch and the quinoa to another. Stir both gently to coat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until hot throughout, 2 to 3 minutes more. Split and add the remaining 4 tablespoons cilantro and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat olive oil in a small skillet and fry two eggs (see link above).
- Cover half of a plate with rice and beans and the other half with quinoa and beans. Then place a fried egg across a section that contains both rice and quinoa. Cover the opposite side with the pulled chicken. Top with remaining cilantro and serve.