Rice and beans. Beans and rice. This nutrient packed dish is a staple in many cultures around the world and it holds a special place in my foodie heart. See, my father was born and raised in Brazil, and my parents lived there for quite a number of years before I was born, and consequently feijão, or black beans and rice, was a common dish in my house growing up. When I was in college and did not have a stovetop, every time my parents visited me, I used to ask them to bring me feijão. As soon as I had a kitchen, I found myself cooking this savory and mouth watering dish quite frequently.

Coincidentally, here in Costa Rica, black beans and rice, or gallo pinto (literally means spotted rooster), is also a staple. Besides the two main ingredients, the rest of the dish is quite different from the Brazilian feijão. The one main difference is that gallo pinto is a breakfast dish, whereas feijão is eaten at lunch or dinner. Given my affinity for the Brazilian version of this dish and my new knowledge of how to prepare black beans the Costa Rican way, I decided to make some waves here in Tamarindo and for the past several months I have been making gallo pinto the Brazilian, Samba to the Sea way.

This dish starts with me preparing feijão for dinner one night and then making sure that I have plenty of leftovers for gallo pinto the next morning.  After an early morning, dawn patrol surf, gallo pinto is a re-energizing, protein-packed breakfast. Check out my recipes below. I promise, these mouth-watering dishes will not disappoint…even if you are not a “bean” person!

Samba to the Sea feijão (this makes beans for a lot of people!!!)

  • Package of the dry beans (no can beans here…that is cheating!!)
  • Head of garlic, peeled
  • One onion, sliced
  • Couple of bay leaves
  • Package of bacon
  • Salt, to taste
  • Rice

Open package, sift through beans to make sure there are no small pebbles. It doesn’t happen often, but I have found them and the last thing you want is to sink your teeth into a rock. After sifting, put the beans in a large pot and soak the beans over night, or even for two days. I empty out the water and wash the beans multiple times while soaking. Helps gets rid of the gaseous nature of the beans (bet y’all did not know that).

When you are ready to cook, make sure the water level is a couple inches above the beans. (If you have a pressure cooker, the cooking of the beans will be much faster. But, since I do not have a pressure cooker here in Costa Rica, the whole process of the beans cooking on the stovetop takes 2-3 hours.) Put in the chopped onion, a couple bay leaves, and the head of garlic. Then I leave  the stove on simmer and let the beans do there magic. While cooking, make sure that there always is a little bit of water above the beans.


Once the beans are almost done (beans will be tender, but still a little firm), add the bacon. At this point the onions usually have dissolved. Smash the tender garlic with a fork against the pot. Then, smash some of the beans against the pot as well. This is the key to getting a thick, delicious sauce from the beans.

Once the beans are tender, taste to see if you need to add any salt. A little salt goes a long way to bring out the flavor. If the beans are a little soupy, smash some more beans. Also,  You can also throw in sausage or pork.

At this point the beans are ready to eat. I promise you your mouth will be watering for the ~two hours that you are cooking these beans. Serve with cooked rice and ENJOY!

Samba to the Sea style gallo pinto


OK, now the mix-up happens with adding my Brazilian style black beans to preparing Costa Rican gallo pinto. This dish is much faster and simpler, promise.

  • Samba to the Sea feijão
  • Cooked rice
  • One garlic clove, minced
  • Fresh ginger (size of garlic clove), minced
  • Endless salad from Robert August’s salad bowl (shredded green and red cabbage, chopped spinach, diced carrots, broccoli crowns, chopped red bell pepper)
  • Olive oil
  • One egg
  • Lizano sauce
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Quarter of avocado, diced

In a pan, saute salad mixture with olive oil. Add the garlic, ginger, rice and beans. Once the mixture is warmed up, make space in the middle of the pan and fry the egg. Serve with avocado on top. I add Lizano, a Costa Rican sauce, to the mixture and put Sriracha on my egg. Sit down, relax, and refuel!

Pura Vida,