This is a quick, healthy side dish I came up with while I was cooking the rest of the meal for my friends. I had the enchiladas and rice. I was serving homemade salsa and guacamole with chips before dinner but something was still bothering me. I felt I didn’t have a balanced meal as yet. That is when beans came to mind.
As I started looking for recipe ideas for the refried beans, I realized most recipes called for frying the beans in pork fat or bacon. Normally I would add pancetta or bacon to the mix because as far as I am concerned, everything is better with bacon- but in this case I needed to make the dish vegetarian.
I started by cooking canned pinto beans in water and mashing them but left still them a bit chunky. As I was sauteing them with the onions and garlic, I kept thinking of a flavoring that would mimic the smokey flavor of bacon. Smoked paprika came to mind. That’s it- I thought. It was delicious paired with the creamy pinto beans, the onions and the garlic. In fact I would make this dish the same way again- why add extra calories with the bacon when I can achieve a similar flavor with the paprika?
I topped the dish with cilantro and queso fresco and the meal was well balanced, healthy and delicious!
Try these refried beans and you will never use the canned ones again!
- 1 can of (15 ounces) pinto beans
- ¼ cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
Place the beans in a saucepan and add the water and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Mash the beans in the pan with a potato masher. Leave it a bit chunky if you like. Keep aside.
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon extra light olive oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ cup queso fresco, shredded
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Heat the oil in a medium sized frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 7 to 8 minutes- till onions are soft. Add the mashed beans. Mix well and sprinkle salt and paprika. Mix well and top with the cheese and cilantro and serve.