After moving to Uvita, Costa Rica (a small beach town 4-hour drive from San Jose) with my wife during the summer of 2021, Jas and I could not believe just how delicious and fresh the food in Costa Rica was, especially at the Uvita Farmer’s market! Jas was happy with our black bean soup, and I loved the Arroz con Pollo. But we quickly discovered one of our favorite local dishes, El Casado Costa Rica.
Casado is a traditional Costa Rica cuisine served for lunch in many local sodas, restaurants, and homes. The meal is a smorgasbord of food from the 5 different food groups. It consists of rice and beans, fried plantains, pasta, salad, and a flour or corn tortilla with an option of beef, chicken, pork, or fish. No worries, picky eaters, no raw fish here.
I’ve come to love Costa Rican cuisine, especially Casado, and no one in town prepares this dish better than the soda Ranchito Dona Maria. But since it’s not always practical to hit up Dona Maria’s soda every time I hankered for this hearty meal, it’s simple enough that I can prepare it at home. All I need to do is ensure I have all the right traditional Costa Rican ingredients.
Luckily, I don’t have to travel far to do my shopping. I can pick up everything I need from one place and ensure the food is among the freshest in town. So what and where is this magical place? Well, it’s the Uvita Farmers Market, located right behind my house, and my favorite time to go is Saturday morning.
Getting Fresh Ingredients for Casado de Costa Rica from the Uvita Farmers Market
The Uvita farmers market opens twice a week to showcase the local farmer, artisans, and their tasty products (tres leches is my favorite) made with love. The Farmer’s Market is one of the few fresh markets in Costa Ballena.
The Uvita farmers market is open twice a week, Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 9 am to 2 pm. It offers a wide variety of fresh and organic products available. Eggs, creams, ice cream, honey, jams, sauces, fruits, vegetables, coffee wines, juices, bread, and pastries, to name a few. Like water paintings, jewelry, and stone carvings, you can also find arts and crafts products at the market.
Three Tips for Shopping at the Farmers Market
Shopping at a farmer’s market in Costa Rica is an easy way to support local growers and producers. It’s also an easy way to eat healthily. If you visit the need for the first time, make your trip successful by following these tips.
#1: Bring Cash
Most vendors don’t have the means to process a credit card payment. When visiting the Uvita Farmers Market in Costa Rica’s Costa Ballena region, it’s essential to come prepared with cash. The Uvita Farmers Market is renowned for its personal touch and connection to the local community. Unlike a grocery store or commercial center, this market brings together a nice mix of actual local farmers, small local vendors, and talented artisans.
By bringing cash, you contribute to the market’s ethos and support the livelihoods of these vendors, including the local coffee producer, dairy farmers, organic vegetable growers, and fishermen offering fresh fish caught from the nearby ocean. With cash in hand, you can experience the authentic charm of the market and engage in meaningful interactions with the passionate individuals who have made it their life’s work to provide clean, organic, and quality food.
Although there are banks in the area, such as Banco Nacional, readily available cash saves you time and ensures seamless transactions. In addition, the Uvita Farmers Market takes place on Wednesday and Friday mornings, offering fresh produce, including local fruits and vegetables.
Whether you’re seeking herbal remedies, natural body products, or different kombucha flavors, cash allows you to explore the vast rows of small vendor tables without worrying about availability or relying on card payment options. Additionally, some vendors may offer hot meals like falafel kebabs or traditional local tinctures, making cash the preferred payment method for these delicious treats.
#2: Bring Bags
If you buy more than your hands can carry, you’ll need a bag, and the vendors don’t provide one. Bringing reusable bags to the Uvita Farmers Market aligns with the values of the local community and the conscious people who frequent the market. Using your own bags reduces single-use plastic waste and minimizes the environmental impact of your shopping experience.
The market’s commitment to sustainable practices and the region’s natural wonders make it the perfect place to embrace eco-friendly habits. So whether you’re picking up fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy products, or organic produce, your bags ensure you can carry your purchases comfortably while promoting a cleaner and greener Costa Rica.
With dozens of vendors and a wide array of products, the Uvita Farmers Market offers a treasure trove of local delights. Bringing your bags creates a more convenient and efficient shopping experience. As you explore the market’s smaller space, you can easily navigate the rows of small vendor tables with your bags in tow.
From the Wednesday market to the day event on Tuesday mornings, you’ll find veggie vendors, local fruit stands, and even a showcase of local craftsmen. Having bags readily available allows you to carry your purchases securely, leaving your hands free to sample delicious falafel kebabs or peruse the fantastic property on display from local real estate agents.
Bringing your bags demonstrates your support for the market’s ethos and the local vendors who work tirelessly to provide superior quality products. It’s also an opportunity to engage in personal service and connect with the passionate individuals behind the stalls.
Additionally, bringing bags allows you to take advantage of the market’s wide range of offerings, from organic vegetables and artisanal goods to unique items like cacao goat’s milk soaps and organic kimchi. By supporting local artisans and businesses, you contribute to the growth and sustainability of the market and the community.
#3: Make A List
Nothing is worse than forgetting the items you came for in the first place. By making a list beforehand, you ensure that you have a clear plan of the things you need to purchase, saving time and avoiding the risk of forgetting essential ingredients for your Costa Rican casado.
From the small market in the main town to the local vendors in San Josecito and San Isidro, making a list allows you to navigate the market efficiently and locate the specific items you require. So whether you’re searching for the perfect avocados, organic herbs, or the freshest catch from local fishermen, a list ensures you don’t miss out on any desired items.
You can tour the market’s several climatic zones and enjoy the unique range of goods by making a list. This market offers a chance to experience new flavors, meet with regional artisans, and mingle with the ex-pat and local communities. Highlights include Bahia’s enormous communal salon and La Parcela restaurant. In addition, you can enjoy the rich tapestry of the Uvita Farmers Market by having products on your list, like regional honey, distinctive spicy sauces, and handmade goods.
Basic Casado Ingredients
This Costa Rican food typically consists of protein, fiber, starch, salad, and tortillas. You can think of it as a superfood bowl on a plate.
A Casado always includes fresh beans, white rice, picadillo, and green salad. Fish, chicken, pork, and red meat are the most common proteins, but there are many variations.
Costa Rican Casados may be adorned with the following extra ingredients:
- fresh avocado
- hard-boiled eggs
- tortilla chips
- sour cream
- pasta salad
- corn tortillas
- pico de gallo
- green plantains
- Salsa Lizano
- fried egg
- fresh cheese
- shredded lettuce and carrot
- chimichurri sauce
- coconut milk
Vegetarians and vegans can make Casado by omitting the shredded chicken and increasing the amount of Gallo pinto used. Be sure to try it with Sopa Negra or Costa Rican Tamale.
After visiting the farmers market, I could buy all the critical food elements for this meal. I had enough ingredients to meal prep my lunch for a few days of the week!