Friday, October 1, 2010

Lazy Gallo Pinto

Here's my version of VERY lazy Gallo Pinto. I say very lazy because all I do is prepare wild rice with a veggie boullion cube, and stir in a can of rinsed black beans and a handful of chopped italian parsley. It is a wonderful staple to have on hand periodically that I can add to salads, soups, wraps, or top with avocado, salsa, "sour cream" or "cheese". It really isn't Gallo Pinto at all. But that's what my husband calls it.

After I whipped up this batch of beans and rice, I looked up the actual recipe of Gallo Pinto, which translates to "Painted Rooster" -- your guess is as good as mine on that one. The actual recipe is very involved, and includes chicken broth, bacon fat, white rice and lots of onions, and sweet peppers of many colors, all chopped fine. Labor intensive, apparently, the raw white rice is sauteed first for some time in the fat, before the liquid is added. I have never had the pleasure of tasting this actual dish, but it sounds very different from what I have made here. Why does my version of it stir the memory of my man? Well, you know how it is with memory. Smells and textures can be very effective triggers to a blast from the past. There is something about my beans and rice that, though not identical, is close enough to place my husband back in his childhood home in Nicaragua.

Interestingly, I remember my father-in-law, Maximo (otherwise known as Grandpapa to my kids) was very impressed with the Gallo Pinto I had inadvertently served him on one of his visits to us. I had never heard of the dish at that time. I had just fixed beans and rice. I don't remember exactly how I made it, but, since I was still breastfeeding my daughter then, I am sure it was no gourmet effort. I believe a can of Ro-Tel may have been involved. But Maximo raved about the dish, waxing poetic about how the flavors, textures and spices effectively transported him to his homeland. Bless his heart, what a sweet man. He also loved my chicken and dumplings (Bisquick).  Did the rice and beans really trigger a memory for Maximo? Or was he only being kind to me? It doesn't really matter. I am now inspired to learn more about the dish and to honor its origin by getting a little closer to the actual recipe, while still maintaining my vegan standards, of course. I will do a bit of experimentation and then share what I come up with.

Sadly, we lost Maximo several years ago. If you have been reading this blog for a while you may remember lovely photos of my husband's little sisters in Miami Beach (see Archives, July, "A Vegan In South Beach"). These wonderful girls, more like cousins to my kids than aunts, are the daughters of Maximo and his widow, our dear friend, Maria Jose Salinas-Starkey.

Here's to you, Maximo -- remembering you is so nice, and you inspire me to better honor your heritage!


  1. This tasty & colourful good for you salad looks mighty pretty & ooh so delicious too!