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Panamanian Recipes Part 3: Gallo Pinto

The dishes of Panama are diverse and flavorful. Especially when you visit sites in rural Panama your mouth will be treated to a burst of amazing surprises in a dish that may look simple.

At times guests at La MICA Biological Station mention that they miss vegetables; many dishes that are prepared consist of a meat (chicken or beef usually), rice, and beans or lentils. The following dish is easy and provides a diversity of delicious vegetables for guests.

Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto is a bean and rice dish enjoyed in Latin American, however it regularly varies among countries or even communities within one country. Try this recipe that is packed full of nutrients and great flavor!

Serves: 4

Prep & Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes


  • 1 can black beans or 1 cup dried beans, soaked overnight
  • 1-2 bell peppers, green or other color
  • 1 medium-large onion
  • 1-2 medium tomatoes
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • Few sprigs of cilantro or culantro
  • Olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper
  • 2 cups white rice, washed


  1. Begin rice so it will be ready with the vegetables.
  2. Coarsely chop green pepper, onion, cilantro or cilantro and tomatoes.
  3. Sauté in olive oil peppers until soft and then add cilantro or cilantro and tomatoes.
  4. Use a garlic press to add 1-2 cloves of garlic, depending on your taste.
  5. Add a small amount of salt and pepper.
  6. Once vegetables are soft, add can of black beans, draining away about half of the juice in the can.
  7. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer until beans are soft.
  8. Serve beans and vegetables over rice.
  9. Enjoy!

This dish is actually a vegan dish, so a perfect recipe to have in the cupboard if you don't usually cook such dishes and are expecting guests who don't eat meat.

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