I know beans are good for me. I really do! But as a recovering picky eater (thank you to Real Mom Nutrition for that phrase!), they are on my list of foods I am still working on. It’s the texture, really, which is why I love lentil soup and garbanzo burgers, and am totally happy to add them to my tacos and chili, where they are partially mashed and so overwhelmed by the meat, sauce, and spices that they are not very noticeable. But a bean salad? Not so much…
In my effort to keep branching out, I found this recipe for refried beans at 100 Days of Real Food. I thought that since the final result is mashed, maybe this was another way to eat an entirely bean-based dish. I am so happy I gave it a try, since not only was my hubby thrilled to have me make one of his favorite foods, but my bean-skeptical 4-year-old and I both have found another way to enjoy beans!
And of course the best part is that this recipe could not possibly be simpler – it takes less than 5 minutes to get the ingredients in the slow cooker, and maybe another 5 minutes to puree at the end. The rest of the time you can go about your business knowing that dinner is cooking away! This recipe also makes a huge batch, easily enough for two meals for my family – we just eat half, and the other half goes into the freezer, ready to go for the next time!
Because the beans are so easy, I sometimes take the extra time to make these homemade whole wheat tortillas, which are beyond delicious. They are too time consuming to be a staple around here, but they are really simple once you get the hang of them and elevate the meal to an entirely different level than store-bought tortillas ever could. And then, as you can see in the picture, we pack our refried bean burritos with brown rice or quinoa, sharp cheddar, avocado, salsa, and lettuce, with some chips and salad on the side. Another alternative is to use bibb or romaine lettuce leaves as your wraps and serve with a cooked veggie on the side. You can also use these beans as a dip for chips, as a layer on an egg wrap, or as a layer in a quesadilla. So enjoyable in so many ways!
Slow Cooker Refried Beans
adapted from 100 Days of Real Food
2 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
1 onion, cut into large chunks
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chili powder (plus more to taste)
1 teaspoon cumin (plus more to taste)
7 cups water
Add all ingredients to slow cooker. Cook on high for 8 hours, checking periodically after about 5 hours to make sure your beans remain covered with the liquid. Add water if needed to keep beans submerged. (I generally have to add some water, but this might be because I have a very large slow cooker. If yours is smaller or doesn’t cook as hot, you might be able to skip this step and as a result, make these beans overnight!).
Once the beans are completely cooked, remove and reserve some of the cooking liquid. Mash or puree the rest of the ingredients (I use my immersion blender to get a smooth consistency, but a potato masher would be great if you want a little more texture). Taste, adjusting seasoning and adding in liquid to your liking. Note that the beans will thicken up over time, so don’t worry if you end up with something that’s a little thin.