Wednesday, March 20, 2013

On the Menu: Costa Rican Food

Beans, Beans the musical food...

That's a lot of beans!!!
I won't finish that little ditty, but you adults know the rest :)  Guess what we're making today?  3 guesses.... BEANS!! Black beans are a main staple in the Costa Rican cuisine.  I found them in many recipes and, even though the kids probably won't eat it, I decided to make Black Bean Soup.  In Costa Rica, they eat a dish called gallo pinto, which is basically black beans and rice, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I remember when I lived alone and I would do the same thing!  $5 worth of ingredients could feed me for a week!!  Another common dish is fried plantains.  Plantains are those big, huge bananas that you see at the grocery store but you've never bought because they always look black and over-ripe.  Apparently they are supposed to look like that :)  They can't be eaten raw and are usually prepared deep fried.  I don't deep fry very often, so I found a recipe that oven "fried" them.  The reviews said they tasted as good as fried- we'll see :)  The cuisine of Costa Rica is a blended cuisine of the foods of Spain, America, the Caribbean, and South America.  All I know is that my house smells pretty good right now!!  The soup is cooking as I write this, read on to find out the results :) 

Black Bean Soup
For the recipe you will need:
  • 3 cups black beans - I used canned.
  • 1 med. onion - diced
  • 2 or 3 stalks of celery- diced
  • 1 red bell pepper - diced
  • 1 cup of fresh tomato or 1 can diced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger - minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil for sauteeing veggies
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp clove
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • sour cream (optional)
  • shredded cheese (optional)
1.  Saute the onion, pepper, celery, garlic and ginger in the olive oil until onion is translucent.  If using fresh tomato add that too.
2.  Put the cooked vegetables and all the other ingredients in a slow cooker and cook about 4 hours.  Or you can cook on stove top by bringing to a boil and simmering about 30 mins.
3.  I blended my soup (so the husband wouldn't see the tomatoes, bell pepper and onions) and served it with some shredded cheese and sour cream on top.  We also served it with.....

Oven Baked Maduros (sweet plantains)
For the recipe you will need:
  • Ripe plantains- black spots are good.
  • cooking spray
1.  Heat oven to 450° F
2. Coat nonstick cookie sheet with cooking spray.  I also used non-stick aluminum foil (just in case)
3. Cut the ends and peel plantain.
4. Cut into 1/2 inch slices on the diagonal
5.  Arrange on cookie sheet and coat top with spray
6. Bake for 10-15 minutes, turning as needed, until golden and tender.

Ok, this meal might not be the prettiest think you ever plated up, but it is GOOODDD! At first I thought it was going to be really spicy, but when the sour cream and cheese were added it was perfect.  I mean really good. As good as a restaurant good.  The plantains were nothing special- kind of a warm banana.  But the soup was delicious.  The kids never got past the "brown-ness" of it, even when I served it with tortilla chips and called it "dip".  Ah, kids!  My cooking genius is wasted on them :)

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