I may be Peruvian, but nothing says comfort food to me louder than gallo pinto, the Nicaraguan version of rice and beans. Being the daughter of a Nicaraguan, I ate gallo pinto many times a week at home throughout my childhood, and if that wasn't enough, I brought the leftovers with me to school in my lunchbox. There was — and is — no getting bored of this simple dish.
Even though my country has one of the most incredible and varied cuisines in the worlds, including its own version of rice and beans (called tacu tacu), whenever I visit my parents in Lima what I want to eat is gallo pinto.
Since I enjoy eating gallo pinto both hot from the pan, or cold straight out of the fridge, I thought making some gallo pinto wraps to bring along to my next picnic in the park would be a grand idea. And where gallo pinto goes, fried plantains and avocado go too. This recipe is the result.
Nicaraguans use white rice and regular vegetable oil to make gallo pinto. In fact, they typically use more oil than I do, fry the onions in it, then remove the onions and cook the rice and beans in that oil. The point of doing this is to give the gallo pinto and appetizing onion taste, but without the onion pieces so that you're left with only rice and beans on your plate. I love this and when my mom or grandma make it for me, I happily eat it. However, when I prepare it myself, I feel the need to make it healthier, like I do with every other dish I cook. For this reason, I use coconut oil in smaller amounts and leave the onions in. I also use brown rice instead of white, although Nicaraguans never do this.
Feel free to use regular tortilla wraps instead of greens if that's easier or more appealing to your kids.
This recipe is vegan-friendly and dairy-free as written, but you can add crumbled cheese on top if you like (feta is a good option). You can also pour some sour cream in your wrap as you eat it. It will be messy but completely worth the extra napkins. Want to give it a Peruvian twist? Add some salsa criolla to the filling instead of the cheese.
2 ripe plantains (they should be pretty black on the outside)
4 tablespoons coconut oil
2 medium sized ripe avocados
6-8 large collard greens leaves, or any other large leafy green of your choice
4 cups gallo pinto
Sea salt, to taste
For the gallo pinto:
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Sauté the onion, stirring, until translucent (about 5 minutes).
Add the beans and rice to the skillet, season with salt, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring.
Put the lid on and cook for 10 more minutes over low heat. Check the salt, and add more if needed. Let it cool completely.
For the wraps:
Peel the plantains, cut them in 4 portions, and cut each portion lengthwise in three slices.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, place half of the plantain slices side by side (unless you have a very large skillet where you can fit them all), and cook for a couple minutes. Turn each slice around and cook for 1 or 2 more minutes, or until golden brown on both sides.
Transfer the fried plantain slices to a plate, and cook the rest. Set aside to let them cool.
Cut the avocados in half, remove the seeds, peel them, and cut in slices.
Wash the collard greens leaves and dry them with paper towels. Remove the bottom part of the thick stem.
Place one collard leaf on a large square of parchment paper (about 12 x 12 inches). Put 1/2 cup cold gallo pinto in the middle of the leaf, in the shape of a thin rectangle. Make sure you leave about one inch at the top, and two inches at the bottom without the filling.
Place a few slices of fried plantain and a few slices of avocado on top. Season with salt.
Fold the bottom part of the collard leaf over the filling. Then fold one side towards the inside, and keep rolling and wrapping the filling tightly, but carefully, so that the leaf doesn't break.Repeat the same folding and wrapping technique with the parchment paper, to cover the collard wrap completely holding it firmly. Close the parchment paper at the top end by twisting the remaining parchment paper tightly.
Repeat with the rest of the collard greens or other greens and filling.