Sunday, March 27, 2011

Super Easy Homemade and Healthy Refried Beans

A few weeks ago, I shared on the blog that I have been cooking dried beans in the slow cooker as one of our main sources of protein since we have become full-time vegetarians. The method I use for cooking dried beans is soak overnight, slow cook all day, then store. The time saving tip is that I make big batches to use in multiple meals for the week. Check out my post for more. Beans are so versatile!

Pinto beans is one of our favorites and eating them brings me back to my Mexican heritage. They're so affordable! Organic pinto beans are about $1.60 per lb from the bulk bin at Whole Foods. What a steal when you think about the nutritional value you're getting from those beans. I often cook pinto beans to use for vegetarian enchilada casserole or just serve them plain on rice with a bit of sour cream and salsa. I reserve the leftover cooked pinto beans with some cooking liquid for refried beans. If I don't have time to make refried beans that week, I'll pop the container in the freezer and defrost it when I'm ready. I usually put the frozen beans in the refrigerator in the morning before work and it will be defrosted by evening.

Buying refried beans in a can is convenient, but you have to careful for the additives in some brands. And it's so easy to make them yourself with pinto or black beans, especially if you planned ahead and had cooked beans stored in the refrigerator.

My mom and grandmother used to make refried beans with lard when I was growing up. Now, my mom and I use heart-healthy olive oil. They're a staple to serve as a side dish or eggs in the morning. Check out my packable 5-minute egg breakfast burrito recipe.

Quick method for Healthy Refried Beans:
  • Start with cooked pinto beans with reserved cooking liquid, which is why you need to cook from dried beans so you can use the cooking water for the refried beans. Use whatever you have leftover like 3-4 cups (including the liquid). Set aside.
  • Warm a heavy pot or large skillet on medium heat.
  • Generous drizzle of olive oil. Add about 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add cooked beans and reserved liquid.
  • Using a potato masher, mash the beans and mix into the liquid as you're working. Check out the picture above. Eventually, it will be thick and creamy. The consistency may be thinner than the canned version.
  • You can add other seasoning like chili powder or cumin, but I prefer to keep it simple because it tastes more authentic to me.
  • Add a sprinkle of sea salt.
Serve as a side dish or the main ingredient for bean and rice burritos. Smear on a tortilla for a tostada and add your favorite toppings such as diced tomato, salsa, sour cream, cheese, avocado, cilantro, green onion, or lettuce. Or use the beans in a Mexican dip.

The beans can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

As a working mom, making refried beans from our leftover cooked beans is such an easy way to make a quick dinner on a week night. We serve our burritos or tacos with fresh fruit. Enjoy!

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