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… It´s a favorite because 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. It 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!
Time: Approximately one hour
Serves: 6-8 people
- 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)
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.
Serve 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!
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