Rice and beans are the foods we grew up with. That is why it is very close to my heart. Memories always bring me something good. I remember the hard work, the human-powered tilling of the soil, planting, weeding, harvesting, and storing of grains and seeds. At the end of the harvest season; every family households in our community share few cups of legumes and rice from their crops and all the men and boys gather in a place, we called “At-atuan“( A place where our old, old folks gather to do a ceremony by butchering a chosen chicken or pig as a sacrifice and to be feasted on while saving a few pieces of meat of whatever they killed to be offered to the Gods.) But let’s not go there otherwise, I will probably be writing a whole book with a thousand pages. It’s a tradition and still exists up to this time except, there’s a modern twist added. They will cook everything that was collected with salted meat( which was cured for months) and every family will get their share after. To make a story short, we call this Begnas, a thanksgiving celebration for the bountiful harvest. After the elderly finished their ceremony, it is followed by our traditional dance with our traditional musical instrument that was passed from generation to generation. It is loud and filled with laughter.

I remember how excited I am every time my father brings home the food from the At-atuan. There’s that magical fragrance that even today I can’t explain. It is a blend of all kinds of legumes and salted meat, cooked in a giant carbon steel wok on a fire pit for hours and hours. I must tell you, very basic and few ingredients but damn good! When we went home to my parents for my brother’s wedding, we did help in some of the cooking, and finally, I was there stirring a six-foot-long wooden spoon on a giant carbon steel wok (that can feed maybe 30 people or more) in an open fire. I was like crying because of the smoke lurking in my eyes, I could feel my face thinning out because of the heat and you know the end result? it was divine! The smell of the burning wood, the smoke, they all add up and gave that indescribable magical taste and flavor. The same flavor of the food from the Begnasthe real flavor of nature indeed.

I was happy when I came across the book “A Taste of Latin America” by Patricia Cartin. While I was reading all her recipes it reminds me about all the crops and food we cook especially for the Begnas. One of my favorites is these Rice and Beans, it always gives me comfort, it brings me close to my family; that is why I’m here writing the joy in my heart, a love letter to all of you. Costa Ricans eat their Gallo pinto with cheese, fried plantains, scrambled eggs, and tortilla for their breakfast or brunch which they called it Casado, meaning – Complete meal. For me, I enjoy tortilla chips dipped in tomato-avocado salsa. But whenever I make this rice and beans I love to eat it top with tomato-avocado salsa ditching tortilla chips. Onions, bell pepper, garlic, and smoked paprika go hand and hand with this rice and beans that taste and smell spectacular. I eat them with eggs for breakfast as well, for my lunch at work as is, and or as a side dish for my dinner with an easy salmon recipe. Everything delicious and very easy to make. I always thought that rice and beans symbolize happiness, gratefulness, and life (I think it’s better to think it that way), Another reason I fell in love with this Gallo pinto and salsa.

Cilantro /Coriander, this power-packed anti-inflammatory can reduce blood sugar and cholesterol and help digest fats. Its traditionally used to help with diabetes and to lessen anxiety, so it’s youthing all-rounder – “Cook Yourself Young” by Elizabeth Peyton-Jones, Naturopath, Herbalist and Author.

Like Parsley, Cilantro is always a part of my dish not only for aesthetic reasons. You will notice in all my cooking/recipes that I use them a lot


These rice and beans is a perfect side dish or a meal on its own that is nutritious and full of flavor.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins


  • 3 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 large Bell pepper(red or green), diced
  • 1 tbsp Pepper flakes(optional)
  • 2 cups Black beans (uses any beans you have), cooked
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cups White or brown rice, cooked
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika(optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Chopped cilantro, leaves and stem


  • 1 Large beefsteak tomatoes (or use 3 medium roma tomatoes (diced)
  • 1/4 cup Red onions, diced
  • 1 Large Avocado, ripe but firm- peeled, cored and diced
  • 3 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Lime juice
  • 1 cup Chopped cilantro leave and steam, loosely packed
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • First, prepare and combine all the tomato-avocado salsa adding salt and pepper at the end according to your taste. Set aside for the flavor to develop as you make the rice and beans.
  • In a large saute pan, heat the oil in medium heat. Add the onions and sautee for 3-5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic, chilli flakes, and bell pepper and continue cooking for another few minutes or until it is very fragrant. Add the cooked beans and Worcestershire sauce, lower the heat to low, and continue cooking for about 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Add the rice and fold with the other ingredients. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Add cilantro and stir to combine. Add lime juice, paprika, salt and paper to taste.
  • Transfer to a serving dish and pile the Tomato-avocado salsa on top or serve the salsa on the side
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Tag @cookmejoyathome on instagram so we can admire your masterpiece!!