Costa Rican Vegan Picadillo de Vainica

Bundles of carrots and green beans alongside a bowl of finely chopped carrots and beans.

This vegan Costa Rican picadillo is easy, delicious and found at tons of Costa Rican restaurants. 

Vegan Picadillo de Vainica Recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb carrots
  • 1 lb green beans
  • 1 small white onion
  • ½ red pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ tbsp salt, or more, to taste
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp Salsa Lizano (affiliate link to Amazon!)
  • 1 tsp vegetable bullion or Maggi
  • 1 TB olive oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 2-3 C of water
  • Half of a bunch of cilantro (optional)

Instructions:

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large flat-bottomed skillet. Finely chop the onion, press the garlic, and add the two ingredients to the pan. Skate them around the pan with a wooden spoon every now and then to prevent them from burning.

While they are cooking, seed and core the red pepper and chop it finely. Add to the pan and stir, cooking until soft. This is your sofrito!

Pour about one cup of tap water over the vegetables and cover until boiling.

While this is cooking, you can chop up the carrots. I don’t peel the carrots, since the peel has additional nutritional value and it isn’t noticeable once you chop the carrot into a zillion pieces. Chop the ends of the carrot, and slice it in half. Slice the halves in half, and once again, until you have a bunch of long, thin, carrot slices like you would use for dipping. Chop those up finely.

Once all of the carrots are chopped, throw them in the pan and add another cup over water to cover. At this point, I add the salt and bullion. After this step, the water should look a bit yellow. Cover the mixture and bring back to a boil.

While that is simmering, you will cut the green beans into tiny pieces, the same size as the carrots. Add them into the pan, covering again with water. Simmer on medium-high until the water has boiled down and the green beans are a dark green color.

At this point, you can add the Salsa Lizano sauce. Salsa Lizano is a Costa Rican national product that gives Costa Rican dishes their distinct flavor. If you aren’t able to get any, you can still make this dish, it just won’t taste exactly as it does in Costa Rica! I just found out you can get Salsa Lizano on Amazon! (Affiliate link)

I squeeze the Salsa Lizano out in a circular motion over the entire pan, a total of 1 to 1 and 1/2 tablespoons. Stir in and taste, adding salt and pepper as needed. I throw some chopped up cilantro on top and let it wilt before serving. (Cilantro, lime juice, and sliced avocados are all great toppers!) This recipe can easily be refrigerated or served immediately. 

About This Recipe

Picadillo is one of Costa Rica’s most popular recipes… and with good reason! Coming from the verb picar (to cut), picadillos consist of diced vegetables that have been sauteed together with a sofrito- and Salsa Lizano of course. Many picadillos contain meat, with beef picadillo de chayote being a particular favorite, but they can be just as tasty when adapted for a vegan diet!

This picadillo de vainica, or green bean picadillo, comes packed with Vitamins C and K and is a simple yet flavorful way to consume vegetables. Since it is nutritious and soft, green bean picadillo is also a wonderful meal for babies transitioning to solid foods!

This vegan picadillo can be served on its own or as part of a casado, a traditional Costa Rican dish consisting of rice, beans, plantains, corn tortillas, and salad. 

Enjoy!

Related Recipes You’ll Love:

Here are some more picadillos from Pura Vida Moms:

Picadillo pairs especially well with a serving of rice… and there are tons of other recipes from Costa Rica and beyond that benefit from this combination! If you’re looking for more dinner inspiration, be sure to check out this  Big List Of Delicious Recipes Served With White Rice.

Substitutions

Your pepper doesn’t need to be the red variety– yellow and green bell peppers will achieve a similar flavor. 

You can always use the frozen green beans and just dice then a little finer. Just cook a bit longer- maybe 2-3 extra minutes.

Variations

If you would like to add meat to this recipe, 1lb of browned lean ground beef or fully prepared shredded beef are great options. When incorporating meat, you can also use the same amount of chicken bullion for a more consistent flavor.

Costa Rican-style boiled potatoes make for a tasty addition to this recipe, as they round out the flavor and give the picadillo a little more substance. 

Serving Suggestions

This dish is generally served as part of a traditional Costa Rican casado. I will often serve with Costa Rican white rice, Costa Rican black beans and a salad.  Sometimes people serve it with gallo pinto.  

You will often find this picadillo as part of the daily menu at traditional sodas and restaurants, so if you are visiting Costa Rican and are vegan, make sure to ask. 

I pretty much always serve this with either guacamole, creamy green salsa or Costa Rican bean dip (frijol molido).

FAQ

1.) How should I reheat my picadillo? – This vegan picadillo de vainica can be warmed up over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Microwaving it for about 25 seconds on high works as well.

2.) What other varieties of picadillo are there? – So many! Picadillo de papa (potato), picadillo de arracache,  and picadillo de chayote are all very popular in Costa Rica.

Printable Recipe

Yield: 7 servings

Vegan Picadillo de Vainica

Bundles of carrots and green beans alongside a bowl of finely chopped carrots and beans.

This Costa Rican comfort food has all of the nutritional benefits of carrots and green beans, and is completely vegan and gluten-free! 

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb carrots
  • 1 lb green beans
  • 1 small white onion
  • ½ red pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ tbsp salt, or more, to taste
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp Salsa Lizano (affiliate link to Amazon!)
  • 1 tsp vegetable bullion or Maggi
  • 1 TB olive oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 2-3 C of water
  • Half of a bunch of cilantro (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large flat-bottomed skillet. Finely chop the onion, press the garlic, and add the two ingredients to the pan. Skate them around the pan with a wooden spoon every now and then to prevent them from burning.
  2. While they are cooking, seed and core the red pepper and chop it finely. Add to the pan and stir, cooking until soft. This is your sofrito!
  3. Pour about one cup of tap water over the vegetables and cover until boiling.
  4. While this is cooking, you can chop up the carrots. I don’t peel the carrots, since the peel has additional nutritional value and it isn’t noticeable once you chop the carrot into a zillion pieces. Chop the ends of the carrot, and slice it in half. Slice the halves in half, and once again, until you have a bunch of long, thin, carrot slices like you would use for dipping. Chop those up finely.
  5. Once all of the carrots are chopped, throw them in the pan and add another cup over water to cover.
  6. At this point, I add the salt and bullion. After this step, the water should look a bit yellow. Cover the mixture and bring back to a boil.
  7. While that is simmering, you will cut the green beans into tiny pieces, the same size as the carrots. Add them into the pan, covering again with water. Simmer on medium-high until the water has boiled down and the green beans are a dark green color.
  8. At this point, you can add the Salsa Lizano sauce. Salsa Lizano is a Costa Rican national product that gives Costa Rican dishes their distinct flavor. If you aren’t able to get any, you can still make this dish, it just won’t taste exactly as it does in Costa Rica! I just found out you can get Salsa Lizano on Amazon! (Affiliate link)
  9. I squeeze the Salsa Lizano out in a circular motion over the entire pan, a total of 1 to 1 and 1/2 tablespoons. Stir in and taste, adding salt and pepper as needed. I throw some chopped up cilantro on top and let it wilt before serving. (Cilantro, lime juice, and sliced avocados are all great toppers!) This recipe can easily be refrigerated or served immediately. 

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

7

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 73Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 625mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 2g

Please double-check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.

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