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Costa Rican Green Bean and Carrot Picadillo

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This Costa Rican picadillo recipe is a meat and vegetable hash with ground beef, carrots, green beans and of course- Salsa Lizano.

About This Recipe

Ask just about any Costa Rican, and they will tell you that they have a signature picadillo recipe. Picadillos are a hallmark of Latin food, and especially Costa Rican dishes. They are generally served with Costa Rican white rice or as part of a Costa Rican casado.

This picadillo de zanahoria con vainica is wonderful because it can be made ahead, and is often an integral part of the casado meal.

The Picadillo with carrots and green beans can also be eaten as a gallo: a 1/4 cup sized portion placed in the middle of a homemade tortilla de masa and eaten as a mini-taco. Divine. I also love it because it’s soft, and great for transitioning babies to solid food, Costa Rica-rica style. 

I love this dish for so many reasons… A crowd-favorite comfort food, it can be made ahead and still tastes wonderful when reheated. It’s super budget-friendly, it feeds a crowd (I made a double batch for our housewarming party and everyone ate heartily!), kids like it, and it’s not too high in sodium.

Picadillo de zanahoria can be served with traditional white rice and black beans, or I usually throw it over a bed of lettuce to make it Paleo-friendly. You can even omit the ground beef for a great vegetarian dish. Any way you slice it (punny!), this recipe is a favorite at Casa Pura Vida!

Carrot and Green Bean Picadillo Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 lb carrots
  • 1 lb green beans
  • 1 small white onion
  • ½ red pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ TB salt, or more, to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 TB Salsa Lizano (affiliate link to Amazon!)
  • 1 tsp chicken bullion or Maggi
  • 1 TB olive oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 2-3 C of water
  • Half of a bunch of cilantro (optional if you don’t like the taste of cilantro)

Instructions

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large flat-bottomed skillet. Finely chop onion and press garlic and add them to the pan. While they are cooking, seed and core the red pepper and chop it finely. Add to the pan and stir. Cook until soft. This is your sofrito!

Add the ground beef to the pan and break it into pieces. Pour about one cup of tap water over the vegetables and beef, and cover. Cook until it boils and the meat has been cooked through. 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.

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. The water should look a bit yellow, so keep adding bullion until it looks like this. Cover 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, and cover again with water.

Simmer on medium high until the water has boiled down and the green beans are dark green rather than bright.

At this point, you can add the Salsa Lizano. 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 like 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.

Add salt and pepper as needed. I throw some chopped up cilantro on top and let it wilt before serving. This recipe can easily be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen, or served immediately. 

This dish is part of the traditional Costa Rican casado recipe. The full recipe and how to is a must read!

Substitutions

For a leaner option, swap in the same amount of ground turkey for ground beef. Your pepper also doesn’t need to be the red variety– yellow and green bell peppers will achieve a similar flavor.

If you’re looking to really turn up the heat on this recipe, substitute about 1/2 of a serrano pepper for the red pepper. Exercise caution, as these peppers are notoriously spicy!

Serving Suggestions

Serve the picadillo as a traditional casado, with white rice and black beans. For a no-carb option, I often layer the picadillo de zanahoria con vainica and black beans over a bed of fresh lettuce.

As a snack, fold a bit into a warm corn tortilla or tortilla de masa and eat as a “gallo.” Buen provecho!

FAQ

What does “picadillo” mean?

Picadillo comes from the Spanish verb picar, meaning to mince or chop. Essentially, a picadillo is a conglomeration of chopped up vegetables and meat.

How is “picadillo” pronounced?

“Peek-a-dee-oh.” Think “pikachu,” and you’re on your way!

Where does picadillo come from?

In addition to Costa Rica and many other Latin American countries, both Spain and the Philippines have their own versions of a picadillo.

Yield: 7

Carrot and Green Bean Picadillo Recipe

picadillo de vainica in scalloped edge glass bowl on table.

An easy to prepare crowd-pleaser loaded with plenty of vegetables and ground beef, carrot and green bean picadillo is Costa Rican comfort food at its finest!

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

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 lb carrots
  • 1 lb green beans
  • 1 small white onion
  • ½ red pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ TB salt, or more, to taste
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 TB Salsa Lizano (affiliate link to Amazon!)
  • 1 tsp chicken bullion or Maggi
  • 1 TB olive oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 2-3 C of water
  • Half of a bunch of cilantro (optional if you don’t like the taste of cilantro)

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large flat-bottomed skillet. Finely chop onion, press garlic, and add the onion and garlic 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. Cook until soft. This is your sofrito!
  3. Add the ground beef to the pan and break it into pieces. Pour about one cup of tap water over the vegetables and beef, and cover. Cook until it boils and the meat has been cooked through.
  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.
  5. 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. The water should look a bit yellow, so keep adding bullion until it looks like this. Cover and bring back to a boil.
  6. While that is simmering, you will cut the green beans into tiny pieces, the same size as the carrots. Add them into the pan, and cover again with water. Simmer on medium high until the water has boiled down and the green beans are dark green rather than bright.
  7. At this point, you can add the Salsa Lizano. Salsa Lizano is a Costa Rican national product that gives Costa Rican dishes their distinct flavor. 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.
  8. Add 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 made ahead and refrigerated or frozen, or served immediately. 

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

7

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 254Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 652mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 25g

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

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About the Author

Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa! I fell in love with Latin America in my 20s, and I’m still head over heels! Here at Pura Vida Moms I celebrate what it means to be bicultural- Costa Rican recipes, bilingual parenting and family travel.

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6 Responses

  1. I always order picadillo at a Cuban restaurant that we frequent here in Fl. I love that you add green beans to yours. Is this an authentic method for this recipe in Costa Rica? Enjoyed by visit! – Bee

    1. Hi Bee! Thank you so much for visiting the site. We LOVE to eat authentic Cuban food in Florida! Yep, this is a super authentic Costa Rican recipe, and you will find it made in this manner in most parts of the country. So yummy! ~Christa

  2. hello! I am from CR, so I think that if you dont find or have Salsa Lizano, you can use a little bit of Worcestershire Sauce, and bit more of black pepper ground. Provecho!

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Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa, and I’m on a mission to help the world fall in love with Costa Rica through food, language and travel. I’m a Latina mom, bicultural, bilingual (English/Spanish), and 100% in love with celebrating parenthood in all its forms, (even the sucky parts). I’m so happy you found the site- WELCOME! Find out more about me here.

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