Vegan Staples: Rice & Beans, Costa Rican Style

Bright orange banner with the VeganMoFo fist logo and the text: "Vegan Staples: rice & beans"

This post is part of my Vegan Staples theme, where I’ll show you how to take stereotypical vegan foods and make them dishes worth serving to even the staunchest omnivores. 

Ah, rice and beans. Its name is boring and evokes images of the blandest meals imaginable. It’s the quintessential veg*n meal, the refuge of the creativity-drained plant-eater. And now one half of its equation has those pesky potential arsenic issues to combat.

But I firmly believe that rice and beans is unjustly derided, that it can be a truly inspiring meal when done right. And how does one do rice and beans right? You consult an expert. And by “consult an expert,” I mean “browse Terry Hope Romero’s Viva Vegan! for the most delicious-looking beans and rice recipe you can find.” And find it I did, on page 92. Terry’s Costa Rican Refried Rice and Beans (aka Gallo Pinto, or “Painted Rooster”) doesn’t require anything too fancy, but by using a cast-iron pan, freshly cooked beans (and their liquid!), and lots of bright flavors, this dish cooks up to be a beautiful and satisfying meal.

Close-up of a cast-iron pan with a rice and beans mixture cooking. It has lots of visible diced veggies and spices.

Gallo Pinto in the pan.

It looks a bit like confetti, doesn’t it? What you’re seeing is long-grain white rice, small red Central American beans, peppers, onions, and lots of other spices. I substituted a bit of Braggs for the vegan Worcestershire sauce, since I didn’t have any at the time, and I reduced the amount of liquid smoke because liquid smoke and I don’t always get along. After a good fry in the pan (they’re not technically refried!) I scooped the mixture into little mounds and served up a lovely meal.

White plate with a small mound of rice and beans next to a sprig of cilantro and a few slices of tomato. In the background is another plate of rice and beans and a jar of hot sauce.


Served with a side of fresh tomatoes, extra cilantro, and hot sauce for topping, this dish would make even the most skeptical rice and beans eaters ask for ¡más, más!

What’s your favorite way to eat rice and beans? Which meals from Viva Vegan! have you cooked?

Cookbook Challenge: Getting My MoFo Mojo On (Thanks, Viva Vegan!)

Live from Verona, Wisconsin, it’s SATURDAY NIGHT VEGAN MOFO!

With deadlines looming around every corner, writers at my company are having a late-night work night this evening. I’m surfacing from the world of revisions, revisions, and more revisions to make a quick little MoFo post about last night’s dinner. Last night, you see, I got my mojo on:


You’re looking at the Tangy Orange Mojo Baked Tofu with a side of yuca with Cuban Garlic-Lime-Mojo Sauce, all from Terry Hope Romeros’ fabulous Viva Vegan! Oh. My. Word. If you don’t have a copy of this cookbook, you might want to rethink the completeness of your cookbook collection. I mean, I’ve only made two recipes from it, but already I can tell that it’s going to become a favorite. Terry’s filled it with all sorts of recipes for rockin’ your palate with Latin cuisine, and she includes lots of tips about traditional ingredients and where you can find them. The book deserves a much longer post, but suffice it to say that the Mojo Baked Tofu totally blew my mind. I ate the leftovers for lunch today, and they were a bright spot of happiness in an otherwise soul-crushingly busy day. I cannot wait to give more of Terry’s recipes a whirl!

And with that, it’s back to writing for me. Except not the fun MoFo kind, alas. How’s your Monday? Anyone else having a stressful week already? I hope not!