Costa Rican recipes -- wine pairings

There was no Online Grapevine last week; we were in Costa Rica exploring the cloud forest, rain forest and beach! Costa Rican food is fresh and made with local ingredients. Their main dish is "gallo pinto" which is black beans with rice. Most Costa Ricans have gallo pinto two or three times a day; the most common menu item is a "casado" which consists of grilled meat, chicken or fish with gallo pinto, salad and fried plantains. They don't use many spices; the flavor in their food comes mainly from the fresh ingredients--fruits and vegetables thrive in the rich volcanic soil. The two most unusual, and delicious, items are featured this week. These recipes are American interpretations, since we could not obtain the recipes or exact ingredients. One of the best meals we had was from the food court of a mall in San Jose! Imagine a cheesy mouthful of fresh herbs and guacamole--prepped and cooked in minutes! These were cheese and guacamole gallos-a gallo being anything wrapped in a corn tortilla, usually meat and vegetables, so this cheesy treat was unusual. The second recipe recreates one of the best salads ever tasted--fresh and full of flavor. The dressing is very light and slightly sweet which goes well with the saltiness of the capers and olives.

1/2 avocado
1 Tbsp. lemon
1/8 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
oil spray
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. onion, minced
1 button mushroom, minced
1 pat butter
sprig parsley, about 2 tbsp. chopped
sprig cilantro, about 2 tbsp. chopped
sprig fresh basil, about 2 tbsp. chopped
1/2 cup (loosely packed) grated white cheese (cheddar or half Manchego, half Monterey Jack mixed well)
1/2 egg, mixed
2 corn tortillas
1 peeled sliced carrot

Have all the ingredients ready before starting to cook as the gallos will cook fast. Chop the parsley, cilantro and fresh basil together, mix, and set aside. Mix the 1/2 egg with the grated cheese and set aside. Mash the 1/2 avocado in a bowl and season with the oregano, lemon, salt and pepper to taste, set aside. Heat a nonstick frying pan over low heat and spray with oil. Cook the tortillas briefly to soften them, then set aside on plate. Spray the pan again if it is dry. Cook the garlic, onion and mushroom over medium heat for just a minute, stirring them often, then set aside in small dish. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting. Add 1/2 the butter to the frying pan and melt the butter, swirling it around the pan to coat the bottom (keep the coating of oil left from cooking the vegetables, do not wash the pan in between steps). Pour half of the egg/cheese mixture onto the pan, patting it down until it is a low disc. Sprinkle half the cooked vegetable mixture on top, then put half the chopped herbs and cook until the egg sets on the bottom is brown. Spoon half the avocado mixture on top, then carefully fold the egg/cheese filling up like a burrito. Remove with a spatula to one of the tortillas. Cook the remaining ingredients for the second gallo as you did for the first. Garnish with salsa and serve with beans and chips. Serves one. You'll like this recipe paired with the 2005 Punta Mita Merlot.

Small head leaf lettuce
1/8 head red cabbage
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 green bell pepper
1 carrot
6 button mushrooms
1 small yellow zucchini squash
spray oil
1 small ripe tomato
1 avocado
1/4 cup drained capers
1/4 cup pitted green olives
1/4 cup pitted black olives
1/8 cup white sesame seed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/8 cup sherry
1/8 cup white vinegar
To make the dressing: mix the vegetable oil, sherry and vinegar. Do not use heavy oil such as sesame or olive oil; safflower or light vegetable oil works best. No salt is required as the olives and capers will provide the salt. Wash, dry and shred leaf lettuce. Slice the olives. Julienne the red cabbage, peeled carrot, red and bell peppers, and yellow squash into thin strips. Wash, dry and slice the button mushrooms. Spray a frying pan with oil and cook half the red and green bell pepper, half the mushrooms and half the squash over medium heat until the vegetables are lightly cooked and not mushy. Toss the lettuce, raw vegetables and half the dressing and place on platter. The salad should be very lightly dressed, so add more dressing sparingly only if needed to barely coat the salad. Slice the tomato and avocado and place them around the salad. Sprinkle the cooked vegetables on top, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serves 4. This salad is perfect paired with the 2006 Kennedy Shah Picnic Blend, which is one of our favorite white wines. 50% Viognier and 50% Chenin Blanc, the Picnic Blend is balanced and crisp, with a touch of minerality.

Click HERE to save money on the Kennedy Shaw mentioned above, through the Online Gr@pevine.


  1. I like, these all varieties of recipes to make very easily.

  2. Thanks, Apoorva, your curry recipes look yummy, too.


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