The beautiful thing about refried beans is that they are healthy and delicious and easy to make. This recipe results in much better tasting (and more nicely textured) beans than when you buy a can of refried beans at the store. Better yet, they are multipurpose: I made this recipe because I wanted to make quesadillas, but the next day I mixed the leftovers with chicken broth, and had a delicious black bean soup. In the past, I've eaten them as a nacho topping, or served them as a dip for chips, alongside guacamole.
This recipe, from the Moosewood cookbook that I've referenced before, is quite straightforward and quick. I use canned beans, and I can almost always make this recipe without planning ahead at all. Most recently, I made it with black beans and included the optional bell peppers. I heartily recommend it.
2/3 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup diced green or red bell pepper (optional)
2 cups cooked black beans or pinto beans (16 oz can)
ground black pepper to taste
In a heavy skillet, saute the onions and garlic in the oil on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onions begin to soften. Add the cumin and the optional bell pepper, and continue to saute for 5 minutes, until the onions begin to brown. While the vegetables saute, drain the beans, reserving their liquid. Add the drained beans to the skillet and continue to cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the beans are hot. Remove the skillet from the heat. Using a potato masher, thoroughly mash the beans while adding as much of the reserved bean liquid as necessary to reach a soft, spreadable consistency. Add black pepper to taste. Serve hot.
To make quesadillas: spread the refried beans to your preferred thickness on a tortilla. Top with shredded cheese, and sliced jalapenos, too, if you like, before putting the second tortilla on top of the fillings. Bake in the oven until the cheese melts, or cook in a little bit of olive oil on the stove top. Delicious!