The bean scene: healthy refried beans

I haven’t been giving priority to my wishlist of recipes bookmarked over the past year. I continue to disregard my list and instead cook things based on my hungry stomach and what it demands at any point in time. I’ve totally lost control.

On Friday, I noticed a refried bean recipe from Astra Libris of Food for Laughter. I’ve always wanted to try making refried beans and her recipe sounded so good that I couldn’t resist. I went shopping on Saturday and bought all of the necessary supplies. Yesterday, I made the beans … and I’m so glad that I did!

You’ll find the refried beans recipe from her site. I like that it’s vegetarian and uses little fat. I looked around the web and found other similar recipes but was curious by the set of spices she choose to use – a combination of cumin, chili powder, oregano and cayenne. I didn’t want boring beans and figured her choices would guarantee maximum flavor.

Aside from the time to soak and cook the pinto beans , it’s easy to make. I made two small alterations to the recipe:

  1. I added a bay leaf to the beans when I cooked them the first time, then removed it when I drained the beans.
  2. I added 2 minced garlic cloves in with the onions when I cooked them. Otherwise, I used the same seasonings and followed the same steps.

The beans are creamy and packed with flavor. I liked the use of cumin which gives an underlying smoky flavor. The consistency turned out just the way I wanted but once they cooled, they did thicken. If this happens, just add a bit of water to loosen them up when reheating.

I will definetly make these again and am looking forward to eating the leftovers for lunch. If you like to know more bean tips and facts, Ben from What’s cooking? wrote a nice piece on the ‘almost magic beans‘.

I’m curious if anyone else makes a version of refried beans that they like? Feel free to drop a link to your recipe in the comments section.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Peter G July 21, 2008, 5:05 am

    Wonderful to see a healthy version of refried beans…I too adore cumin in a lot of recipes.

  • Fearless Kitchen July 21, 2008, 8:39 am

    This looks great – it’s nice to see healthy refried beans out there. I also love the use of cumin – it makes everything better!

  • Jen July 21, 2008, 9:03 am

    Hi Alan- I never really use a recipe for refried beans but usually just cook some onions and garlic in a little olive oil and then add the spices that you mentioned according to wim and give the whole thing a quick mashing… I do like to use black beans sometimes though.

  • cookinpanda July 21, 2008, 9:26 am

    I love refried beans, especially versions that do not involve any bacon or other meat grease. It’s very refreshing. Cumin is definitely the key.

  • Manggy July 21, 2008, 9:35 am

    I loooooove beans. Especially when they’re loaded with chili powder. That’s just a no-brainer, heh :) Though the only time I have refried beans is when I go to sad Mexican restaurants. And they’re served with fried tortilla chips– not really the health-conscious option. I didn’t know people ate them for lunch. (lookit me, so culturally well-versed.)

    Don’t worry about your food bookmarks, there’ll be plenty of time to go through them. Actually you’re one of those few food bloggers who’s so good on following through his colleagues’ recipes! I’m sure Astra is very flattered!

  • Helen July 21, 2008, 10:32 am

    Lovely healthy recipe – and I love the fact they turned out creamy, despite using very little fat. I love that about beans. I’ve never tried making re-fried beans – I’ll have to give it a go. Like you though, it’s so hard to get around to all those bookmarked recipes. I’ just writing a post about your polenta tart crust!

  • Astra Libris July 21, 2008, 10:45 am

    Allen, Manggy is right – I am SO flattered, and quite honored! I deeply respect and am inspired by your blog and your culinary skills, and finding my refried beans recipe mentioned on your site absolutely made my day – I think I’ll be floating 2 feet above the ground in delight all week! I am SO thrilled that you enjoyed the recipe! I will definitely fix the beans with your garlic and bay leaf additions from now on – garlic makes everything better! Thank you again and again for the honor, and for trying the recipe!

  • Lisa July 21, 2008, 3:06 pm

    As a vegetarian, I eat beans on a regular basis. These look fantastic and I will consider this recipe next time I make refried beans. I’m glad you were inspired to try Astra’s recipe.

  • Annie July 21, 2008, 6:02 pm

    Love your site, great ideas and beautiful photos. I also like to cook in a healthy way; it can be a challenge sometimes, can’t it?

  • Allen July 21, 2008, 6:13 pm

    Peter G: Thank you!

    Fearless Kitchen: Thanks!

    Jen: Next time I will explore a bit more, black beans sound good – I never realized just how simple they are to make.

    Cookingpanda: I agree — cumin is the key!

    Manggy: Hmmm, why are your Mexican restaurants ‘sad’? Beans are good for any meal, Mark!

    Helen: Definetly try to find some time for trying out the beans — I’m curious to see how you liked (or disliked) the polenta crust idea :-)

    Astra: Haha — I’m the one supposed to be thanking *you* :-) Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Lisa: Thanks for stopping by — I just noticed that you have 104 posts on your blog about beans and legumes … wow, you know your beans! I’m looking to explore this area alot more so will be stopping by your site often :-)

  • Jeanine July 21, 2008, 7:48 pm

    These look fantastic! I’m on the lookout for a new refried bean recipe, and will have to give this one a try.

  • Rosa's Yummy Yums July 22, 2008, 12:47 am

    Those healthy refried beans look delicious! Very tasty too!



  • Ben July 22, 2008, 11:35 am

    Even though they used to make pounds and pounds of refried beans at my parents’ restaurant. I am only lately trying to make mine (I KNOW I KNOW) So I will give this recipe a try and see how it turns out. Also a call to my mom will have to be necessary. I just love beans :)

  • Min August 13, 2008, 2:11 pm

    Allen, I make awesome, authentic frijoles refritos…not exactly healthy with lard, but delicious nonetheless. (and it’s okay if you’re not eating them every day, I believe) It’s an involved process, but I also use onions and garlic in them. You can check them out at my other recipe blog:

  • eviedee September 17, 2008, 12:06 am

    My very favorite midnight snack (which encourages plenty of teasing from my hubby) is BEANS. If you find yourself craving beans at midnight I offer you this shortcut recipe. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a small frypan over low heat. Add one clove of garlic and cook until it just begins to sizzle. Add one partially drained can of pinto beans and a dash of cumin. Take your bean or potato masher and grind those suckers into a delightful pulpy mess. Add salt to taste, serve with chips, tortillas, or just dive in spoon first.

  • Daniel January 25, 2009, 3:17 pm

    You might also try some freshly ground peppercorn. It mixes well with the cumin, chili powder, and cayenne.

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