My Version of Costa Rican Casado

27 Sep

Last week, my neighbor gave me a plaintain. I don’t eat bananas anymore because of the high carbohydrate content. So this solitary plantain sat on my kitchen counter turning slowly from green to yellow to yellow speckled with black spots. To throw or not to throw? I always feel guilty when I throw food away. This goes back to the time I was growing up and reprimanded by my mum for not finishing my meals – ‘Think of all the starving children in the world’, she would say. Although I now know that I won’t be saving any starving children if I leave food on my plate, I do however, make an effort not to waste any food, cooked or uncooked. Hence my decision to use up the plantain!

I was introduced to plantains while in Costa Rica and discovered their national dish casado. Casado means marriage in Spanish and this one-plate dish is a ‘marriage’ of various ingredients. It consists of rice, beans, a small salad (seemed to be always made with iceberg lettuce, tomato and cucumber slices), a meat (one or more types) and is accompanied by plantains, tortillas and sometimes, other small dishes. No big culinary know-how required to produce it but I liked it. Since going low carb, I haven’t made casado at all because it is loaded with carbs – rice, beans, plantains, tortillas!! But what else should I do with this plaintain? I googled and couldn’t find any other easy way to use up the plantain other than to sauté it. Ok, then …

To try to reduce the carbohydrate content of the dish a little, I decided to make the rice with cauliflower rice. And instead of serving the beans on the side which would mean that you would eat more beans, I decided to put it into the ‘rice’, just like in gallo pinto. Gallo pinto, if you speak Spanish, has nothing to do with yellow roosters nor is it a dish made with chicken. It is white rice mixed with black beans and flavored with onions, coriander and Salsa Lizano. Some people add chopped bell peppers. It is awesome. Salsa Lizano is hard to come by in Europe and the closest sauce I had to it was HP Steak sauce. I also did not have any bell peppers – I like to add red and/or green for colour. Anyway, so I made this pseudo gallo pinto and served it with grilled chicken breast, sautéed plantains and a small salad. It was delicious and I got rid of my plantain! Of course, with the plantain and beans, this meal was not very low carb but let’s say it was carb-reduced.

Costa Rican Casado - carb-reduced version

There is really no recipe to share here except for the rice bit. Instead of chicken, you could serve it with pork, beef, fish – grilled would be nice. Although Costa Ricans do not eat casado with tofu, there is no reason why you can’t replace the meat with tofu or even a seitan schnitzel. Then add a healthy portion of salad with a simple dressing. No need for plantains although they do add some nice colour to the photo above, don’t they?

Carb-reduced Gallo Pinto (serves 2)

250 gr cauliflower, riced

1/3 can black beans

1 small onion, chopped

a handful of coriander, chopped, plus a few sprigs for garnishing

1/2 small bell pepper, any colour or mixed, cubed finely (optional)

Salsa Lizano, HP Sauce or Steak Sauce

Place the riced cauliflower in a glass dish and microwave on high for 4 minutes.

Sauté the onions (and peppers, if using)  in a pan with some olive oil till glazed and lightly golden (and peppers are cooked). Add the beans. Sauté for 2 minutes more till warmed through. Add the cauliflower rice and chopped coriander. Mix well and season with the sauce. I used about 1 tablespoon but you can increase the amount to your liking. Dish out and garnish with fresh coriander.

¡Buen provecho!

Nutritional Info per serving of Gallo Pinto

Total calories – 99.6 kcal; Fat – 0.4 gr; Total Carbs – 22.9 gr (dietary fibre – 7.4 gr, therefore net carbs – 15.5 gr); Protein – 5.8 gr

Print this recipe – Carb-reduced Gallo Pinto


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