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Nicaraguan Gallo Pinto
With cabbage & lime salad and sauteed bananas

Learned from Jenny Sanchez, of Leon, Nicaragua, in Maine 2009

Total Time: 3 hours for cooking beans + 1 hour for the rest
Serves 4

For a totally hearty, lunch – a welcome break from sandwiches and chips.

1/2 lb. dried pinto beans
1 cup white rice
1 envelope Sason Accent Culantro y Anchiote
1/4 c. + 1 Tpsp. olive oil
1 ½ Tbsp green pepper, medium dice
1 ½ Tbsp red pepper, medium dice
½ small yellow onion, medium dice
½ tsp + 1/8 tsp salt
16 cilantro leaves
4 bananas or plantains
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. salsa
1/2 small cabbage
2 tomatoes, large dice
1 1/3 limes
¼ cup cheddar cheese, in ½ inch cubes

Part 1: Cook rice and beans the day before, any time you are home for 2-3 hours.

Rinse beans in cold water, spread out on a cookie sheet, and pick out any stones. Put them in a medium to large pot, cover with water, add Sason Accent (if you don’t like MSG, use instead ½ tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp ground anchiote, otherwise known as annatto). Cook beans on medium-low (setting 3) for hours, adding water if necessary to cover, stirring occasionally, until beans are soft, like cooked potato. While beans are cooking, saute rice in saucepan with 1 tbsp oil, toasting lightly but not browning at all. Add 2 cups water, bring to a boil, cover and cook on low for 20 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate covered. Strain beans, cool, and reserve in fridge until you’re ready to prepare the rest.

Part 2: Start preparing the rest of the dish about an hour before serving.

Make the gallo pinto. In ¼ cup olive oil in large pan, saute yellow onion, red and
green peppers until soft, mix in beans and let cook for 5 minutes on medium high, so beans are sizzling in the oil and beginning ot brown. Turn over gently with spatula to brown the other sides of the beans. Once beans are slightly browned (10-20 minutes), scoot the beans into a ring around the outer edge of the pan so the center of the pan is empty. Pile the rice into the center. Sprinkle ½ tsp salt onto beans. Fold beans and rice together. Once rice is hot, add cilantro leaves, cover and turn off heat.

Sautee the bananas (or plantains). Peel bananas and slice each lengthwise, then across, so you have 2-3 inch segments each with a flat side. In 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large sautee pan on medium heat, saute bananas flipping once so both sides are golden brown.

Prepare the cabbage salad (while bananas are cooking). The lacey, crunchy texture of the cabbage dressed solely with fresh lime and salt is what makes this simple salad mind-bogglingly refreshing. To create it, try this knew way to cut cabbage. Slice off two inches from sphere. Hold the piece, inside up. Instead of slicing straight up and down, as you shave thin pieces off with a paring knife, flick your wrist as if you are drawing with the tip of the knife the letter “c” away from you. (Use only lacy thin shavings for salad, save any large thick pieces for some other purpose.) Pile cabbage on the top half of each serving plate, top with diced tomato, squeeze fresh lime all over (about 1/3 of a lime per person), and sprinkle more salt than seems sane.

Assemble the rest of the plates. Getting the rice and beans and the bananas onto the plate in a cool, appetizing way is like making a sand castle with small dishes as your moulds. Fill a 1 c. sized rounded dish or measuring cup with rice and beans and press down. Flip over onto the center of the plate. Now make two banana piles with a smaller dish in the same way on each side of the rice and beans. Below the row of rice and beans and bananas, put a generous dollop of sour cream and a couple spoonfuls of salsa. Sprinkle cubes of cheddar on top of the rice and beans.

Please email lindsay@lindsaysterling.com with comments or questions.
copyright Lindsay Sterling 2009