Making Costa Rica Casado with Produce from the Farmers Market

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Colorful fruits and vegetables displayed at the farmers market.

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 top 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 have a hankering 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 be sure that the food is among the freshest available 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 are visiting the market 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.

#2: Bring Bags

If you plan on buying more than your hands can carry, you’ll need a bag, and the vendors don’t provide one.

#3: Make A List

Nothing worse than forgetting the items that you came for in the first place.

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 will always include 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 I visited the farmers market, I could buy all of the critical food elements for this meal. I had enough ingredients to meal prep my lunch for a few days of the week!

It is time to learn about my second favorite meal, olla de Carne! Look out for that article next! What is your favorite dish to make? Let us know in the comments below because I want to try many new foods.

Woman filling a wicker basket with fresh green lettuce from the farmers market.

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