Monday, July 16, 2012

What's Cooking? Casado Vegetariano

Yesterday I landed back in the States, after an early flight from San Jose, Costa Rica. It's been a whirlwind tour - travelling to twelve different cities and towns, learning about coffee production in the Central Valley, working on my surf skills on the Pacific Coast, and traipsing around a cloud forest up north. While there was loads more to do, it was a pretty good intro to the country. And while I greatly enjoyed all of the outdoors times and even some intellectual stimulation, the food (I guess barring coffee...) was not the highlight of the trip. Yes, bananas and mangos are ubiquitous and do taste significantly better than in the States, but there is a definite inclination toward meat, cheese, and fried food. 

During my two weeks traveling in the country, I subsisted primarily off of fresh tropical fruits - lots of bananas, mangos, some starfruit, pineapple, and lychee - and vegetarian casados. Casado refers to a typical Costa Rican meal consisting of rice, black beans, fried plantains, green salad, tortilla, and perhaps a meat of some sort. This is the country's classic fare and can be found at just about any Soda or diner. It also literally means "married," and is what would be served in a Tico's home. Well, on the last J and I were in Costa Rica, at a hostel in Monte Verde, we decided to go all out and concoct our own vegetarian casado. Left over from our travels were some crumbs of corn tortillas, dried black beans, and some mini bananas that just didn't seem to want to ripen! With an onion, some garlic, an avocado, squash, and a good deal of oil, we concocted a pretty fabulous meal.

Frijoles Refritos
3/4 cup black beans, dry, soaked overnight, and cooked until tender (or 1 can)
1 tbs mild flavor oil, like canola
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt to taste
Water to consistency (1 - 1 1/2 cups)

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent.
2. Throw in the garlic, beans, and about 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil and then allow to cook on a simmer.
3. Continue to add water as it boils away or is absorbed. It should take about 30-45 minutes to reach a state where it can easily be mashed. Cook longer for a smoother consistency.

Serve with rice or (homemade!) tortilla chips, fried green banana or plantain, green salad with avocado, and sauteed chayote squash (especially good cooked in a tomato sauce). Pura vida!

Check out more tasty delights at Wellness Weekends. Oh, did I mention that it's my birthday today? :) Don't worry, we'll celebrate a bit later...

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