I have way too many dried pinto beans; several jars full. I have never cooked with pinto beans. I have never even bought canned refried beans before. My only encounter with this food is at restaurants.
As the end of our budgeted month was coming to an end I decided we needed to use what we had and pretend there was no money at all to buy any food. Since we have actually been in this position not too long ago it was not very hard to convince everyone, even my husband, that we were down and out.
He got a little perturbed at me a few days later when he realized I did in fact have more cash than I had let on. He couldn’t decided if he was amazed at my frugality or annoyed that I made everyone “suffer” because I wouldn’t cave to cravings and made them eat what we had.
Anyway, this is how I ended up in front of the computer trying to figure out what the heck to do with pinto beans. Apparently there isn’t much other than refriend beans or soup. Hmph. People are so unimaginative. We are all sick of soup since we have soup about 3-4 times a week since it is a cheap, healthy, and filling meal for a large family. I was determined I was making something different and good.
I did decided that I needed to play it slightly safe for our first meal. Remember I have never worked with pinto beans before. I also acknowledged that making a new meal can be as easy as taking a tried and true dish and just adjusting it and taking it up a notch.
I made homemade refried beans for the first time ever, knowing that I was going to make a delicious meal out of it. I was determined. I found a recipe online and decided it was my best bet, although I did change it slightly. I added our leftover peppers and onions from the previous night’s meal; fajitas. I also used coconut sugar instead of brown sugar. I use coconut sugar as a brown sugar replacement because it is healthier and full of flavor. Other than those small changes this recipe was a win. This girl perfected refried beans and I am not going to mess with perfection.
I used my stick blender on the beans, but I was careful as I wanted a chunkier bean since I was making a casserole. If I was making dip or burritos I would have made it smoother.
A good recipe does not need to be complicated in order for it to be amazing. I chopped a tomato and added a jar of salsa to the refried beans. Boom. That is all. The refriend beans already had some amazing flavor and I didn’t want to lose that by adding to much “stuff.”
I used a mild salsa since Princess claims she hates spicy foods. It was still really good because the refried beans have red pepper flakes in them.
I put the mixture into a casserole dish and added cheese. I made a small casserole for Elf that was cheese-less as she has a dairy allergy.
I can assure you that the cheese-less casserole was just as tasty as the one with cheese. When I took it out of the oven I served it on Romaine lettuce that I had sliced up and warm tortillas that were leftover from the fajitas. I cut our tortillas into triangles and used them like a dinner roll. We didn’t put the casserole on the tortillas. I used what we had and it was warm, good, and filling. Everyone enthusiastically agreed this was a “keeper” recipe. We ended up with leftovers; enough for TWO lunches!
Refried Bean Casserole:
One batch of homemade refried beans
One tomato; diced
One jar of salsa
Shredded cheese (optional or use a dairy-free alternative)
Tortillas (homemade is really best)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix the refried beans, tomato, and salsa. Put in a casserole dish and add the cheese. I did “grease” the casserole dishes with coconut oil. Partly for flavor and partly because I had no clue if this would stick to the pan.
3. Bake for 20-25 minutes
4. Serve on shredded lettuce with warm tortilla.
I am now determined to create amazing pinto bean recipes and give new life to this under-appreciated bean.