We’ve had some really good meals since we’ve been in Costa Rica, but food is pretty $$$ here and – perhaps more to the point – eating out with three children 5 and under isn’t for the fainthearted. We had Cuban our first night, with arroz con pollo. Slow cooked chicken on the drumstick with tangy pickled onions and peppers. The breakfast at our first hotel was pretty insane too, with an all you can eat buffet with plantains, eggs to order, juices, and tons of fresh fruit. We did lunch at a little cafe and the olive oil was insane and so was my cafe con leche. For dinner, we sampled tacos and a falafel burrito at a little hipster restaurant. While we’ve been in Santa Teresa, we’ve eaten out once and had crazy good ceviche with plantains, guac, and fish and chips. But all of this is spendy and a little overwhelming with a screaming child (or two, or three… More likely three if it’s after 5 pm.) So we’ve been making most of our own meals, and we’ve been taking advantage of the super fresh (and cheaper) ingredients… Santa Teresa is pretty remote, so anything that’s not produced here is super pricey.
As I’ve been eating and Joshua and I have been trying to take our meals up a notch because it’s a vacation, I’ve thought about how menu planning can get into a rut or how some of my friends and I like to trial out recipes with each other and then repeat them because we know they’re tasty and imitation/inspiration/whatever, it’s just nice sometimes to not have to plan it out all by ourselves. So here’s my little gift to you: a three day menu plan. Vegetarian, fresh, yummy, cheap, no waste, and Costa Rican vacation inspired. It’s all about the lime, mostly about the pico (salsa), and pretty easy to prepare. Hope you enjoy!
- Purple Cabbage
- Cilantro x2
- Red Pepper x2
- Tomato x6
- Mango x4
- Onion x3
- Limes x8
- Avocado x4
- Bananas x6
- Salad Greens
- Milk (or half and half for your coffee)
- Dozen Eggs
- Corn Tortillas
- Can of Refried Beans
- Black Beans (from scratch or canned)
- English Muffins
- Dried Coconut
Open Faced English Muffins
- Arrange avocado and tomato slices over half of the open faces, sprinkle with squeezed lime juice, salt, and crumbled feta (**or queso fresco).
- Arrange sliced banana on one and small cubes of pineapple on another, sprinkle with raisins, coconut, and squeezed lime juice.
**Add protein: poach an egg and layer onto your savory faces.
**Add yum: mayo, cinnamon, peanut butter, or honey, respectively.
**Save: dehusked and cored pineapple, 1/2 the avocado, 1/2 the tomato, and 1/2 the banana for later… Don’t bother with a juicer for the lime, just squeeze 1/4 over and save the other 1/2. Place all of them in a bowl and stow in refrigerator.
**Start: Rinse and soak 1-2 cups of rice in 1:2 ratio water. Rinse and soak 3 cups of beans in 1:2 ratio water (DON’T add salt – this toughens the skins, yuck)
- Add a cup of pineapple, 1/2 a mango, and a banana to your blender. Add two cups of water (and some ice, if you prefer). Blend and serve.
Refried Bean Tacos with Mango Salsa
- Open and warm refried beans in a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and lime juice.
- Dice 1 onion, 1/2 leftover mango, 1 tomato, and cilantro. Add juice of one lime and salt.
- Arrange on warmed/toasted tortilla: spread of refried beans, salsa, feta (**queso fresco) and coconut for garnish.
**Save: 1/2 the refried beans, any remaining salsa.
- Slice 1/2 the purple cabbage into thin strips, dice red pepper, add remaining salsa (toss in another diced tomato if not much left). Wash and add salad greens. Top with olive oil, lime juice, salt, coconut, a handful of raisins, and feta.
**Save: leftover salad, leftover greens.
**Tip: don’t mix greens… Leftover will keep better.
- Onion and red pepper sauteed, add eggs. Serve with a couple of slices of avocado and 1/4 of a lime to squeeze over everything.
**Still hungry?: add a warmed tortilla and queso fresco.
- Add 1 cup of your melon (I used papaya, but papaya tastes like ass in the US, so I’d go with something more delicious.), one banana, and a handful of pineapple. Cover with water and blend.
**Wanna be healthy?: add a cup of leftover salad greens.
- Toast remaining english muffins.
- Warm remaining refried beans, spread on muffins and return to toaster with feta on top to melt.
- Add remaining veggies from salad last night or avocado and tomato with lime.
**Start: cooking your beans 4 hours before dinner. Cooking your rice 45 minutes before dinner.
- Leftover heaven! All about presentation, people. Scoop of rice, scoop of beans, leftover salad OR make a whole new mango salsa. If you’re feeling crazy, whip up this sauce: 1/2 avocado, 1 lime, 1/2 cup of cilantro, salt, garlic, olive oil, blend and drizzle over bowl.
**Save: rice, beans, leftover salsa, leftover sauce.
- This would be really good with milk! Add two cups leftover rice, one cup milk (or half and half, and if you don’t have enough, just mix with a little water), and one to two eggs in a frying pan. (Butter please). Cook until egg is incorporated.
- Add raisins and warm for another minute or two.
- Serve with coconut, sliced banana, and cinnamon.
- Chop up your remaining fruit and toss in blender. Voila!
Guacamole and Bean Tacos
- You got this. Leftover beans from last night. Dice an avocado. Dice a tomato. Dice an onion (dice some garlic, if you haves it). Mix, douse in lime and salt. Add beans and guac to tortillas (maybe some queso!) and serve.
- Don’t let anything go to waste: the beauty of these ingredients is that they all go together, even the onions AND the fruit. Don’t forget the lime. Make more sauce, if you want. REMEMBER leftovers are palatable if there’s a little effort made for presentation… I don’t mean to be gender essentialist or anything, but men, in particular, don’t seem to get this 😉 –