Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pura Vida Comida

For the past few weeks I have been MIA, I know, but I have a really good reason.  I promise.

Instead of living the usual rat race, working and cleaning, cooking and shopping for toilet paper and other things I hate spending money on, we enjoyed the tropical breeze and beautiful sunsets of Costa Rica.

Ahhh... that is the sweet life.

Of course, my days weren't only filled with zip-lining and surfing.  We needed to eat, too, right?  Not that we minded.  The food was delicious, the fruit was fresh, and Paulo received his necessary rice and beans (or casados in Costa Rica -- actually meaning "married couple", a great way to describe those two).

I wouldn't want you to feel left out, so I have some recipes to share with you.  You may not have the chance this summer to hop on a plane to Central America, but it doesn't mean you need to live without a little Pura Vida in your life.  Go ahead, put down that To-Do list and close your calendar on your computer screen.  Sometimes the simple things are the tastiest.

Pura Vida.
1 whole chicken
1 chopped onion.
1 chopped red sweet pepper.
2 big carrots or the equivalent, chopped very tiny.
1 chopped cilantro roll divide in 2 portions.
4 big chicken bullion cubes"Maggi". (Not Knor, apparently it tastes terrible.)
2 teaspoons of anato (find in the Mexican section of the grocery store)
2 cups of Jasmine rice


1)  Cut the chicken in big pieces ( if you don't know how, buy it from the store already in pieces, no worries).  Place the chicken in a big pot and cover with water.  Add about 3/4 of the chopped onions, the 4 chicken bouillon cubes, 1/2 chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon of anato, 1 chopped sweet pepper. Cook this for about 1 hour or until chicken is completely cooked. Taste the broth to see if it needs a little bit of salt.  When you are happy with the flavor set aside.
2)  Take another pot, and add the rice, the carrots, 1/4 of the onions, and using a strainer add the broth from the chicken that you just cooked, (about 2 cups and a half). Put the stove on high  and stir a couple times. Once the broth is simmering cover with a lid, lower the heat to very low heat for about 10 minutes more. Taste it to see if the rice is soft.
3)  Take the chicken in a bowl or in a cutting board ( you may have to wait until the chicken is cold enough to work with it), make it in a little pieces with 2 forks.
 4)  In a another pot, add olive oil ( about 2 tablespoons) in medium heat, add 1/4 teaspoon of anato, add the chicken in tiny pieces, add the rice, and start to mix everything together with a spoon.  Add the other 1/2 of chopped cilantro.

  • 1 whole pineapple, peeled, cored and cut in medium size chunks
  • 6 cups of water
  • ¼ cup to ½ cup sugar, adjust based on preference and sweetness of the pineapple
  • Juice from 1 lime
Working in batches place the pineapple chunks with the water, sugar and lime juice in the blender, and blend well.  Strain the juice and serve with ice.
Typical Costa Rican breakfast --
  • 1 lb black beans
  • 8-10 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 small or medium onion
  • ½ small red or yellow sweet pepper (optional)
  • 3 cups chicken broth or water
  • 2 cups white rice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1-3 Tablespoon oil to fry the Gallo Pinto
1)  If beans are dried, cover with water and soak overnight, if they are fresh, just rise them off. Drain the beans and add fresh water to an inch (2.5-cm) above the top of the beans, salt, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce heat to very low simmer until beans are soft (~3 hours).

2)  Chop cilantro, onion, and sweet pepper very fine.

3)  Add 1 Tablespoon oil to a large pan and saute the dry rice for 2 minutes over medium high flame then add half of the chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro and saute another 2 minutes. Add water or chicken broth, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer until rice is tender (20-35 minutes). This is also the recipe for Tico rice used in other favorites like tamales.

4)  Once the rice and beans are cooked you can refrigerate or freeze them. Keep a significant amount of the “black water” with the beans (½-1 cup 120-240 ml). This is what gives the rice its color and some of its flavor. Saute the rice, beans reserved chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro together in vegetable oil for a few minutes. Sprinkle with a little fresh chopped cilantro just before serving.

Once the rice and beans are cooked you can also refrigerate or freeze them. Make up small batches of Gallo Pinto when you want it by simply sauteing them together.


  1. I have to know, did you find a sweet little lady to give you a private cooking lesson? Did you, did you?!

  2. No :( I found really nice people, but they all worked in the towns where we were but lived somewhere far away. I did, however, go in two kitchens and talk to the people cooking. I just didn't get to stay long enough to ask questions.


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