I almost bought a can of refried black beans the other day. I was doing that for a while a few years ago, when we were trying to stick to a slow carb eating plan. (If you are unfamiliar, it can be summed up as eating protein, veggies, and beans at just about every meal.) I’ve been trying to steer my food intake back in that direction since it was when I felt my fittest, but it’s been a slow process since we moved to the Central Valley and, you know, we were without a kitchen for a while this year.
Those cans were super convenient then, even though I knew they were loaded with sodium. But I stopped myself this time. I’m perfectly capable of making delicious beans, so I redirected myself over to the dried bean section and picked up a one pound bag of black beans.
I didn’t want boring beans. I wanted them to be loaded with flavor because I wasn’t quite sure what I would do with them right away. Maybe eat them alone, add riced cauliflower, or use them as a dip. I hadn’t decided just yet. So I loaded them with garlic.
It’s a pretty easy solution when you want tons of flavor. I think that became really clear to me when we were living in Brazil. I used to stand behind folks in the supermarket buying bags of garlic that had at least 25 to 30 heads inside. And it was impossible to ignore during lunch time when our entire apartment building smelled of it cooking on the stove.
So I added garlic to the beans while they cooked and during the refrying process, which is really just smashing them together in a skillet for me. I also added a little lime juice for tangy flavor. I stopped there, though. I feel like I overuse cilantro these days. I use it in everything. But I decided this time I would keep the flavors to two – garlic and lime.
These beans came together easily. I used a pressure cooker in the form of an Instant Pot so that is what you will see in the recipe. But really you just need cooked beans. So you can cook them on the stove or in the oven with garlic. You could even use canned, but they won’t have as much flavor.
These are perfect for a rice and beans meal, or serve them in the cast iron skillet you cook them in and add some tortilla chips for scooping.
Refried Beans with Garlic and Lime
Makes 6 to 8 servings
What you’ll need:
1 pound dried black beans
6 cups water
10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
Juice from half a lime
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt (to taste)
Queso fresco or Cotija cheese to garnish
Lime slices for serving
How to make it*:
Add the beans and water to an Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Place 5 cloves of whole garlic in the pot. Mince the remaining 5 cloves and set aside. Secure the lid, close the vent and set to manual, high pressure for 22 minutes. Once the beans are done cooking, let all the pressure decrease naturally.
Add the olive oil to a large cast iron, or similar, skillet and heat over medium-high. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, until it begins to soften. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the garlic. Cook 2 more minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and use a slotted spoon to add the beans and softened garlic cloves to the skillet. Reserve 1/2 to 1 cup of the bean cooking liquid. Use a spatula to stir and mash the beans until they reach your desired consistency. Add a 1/2 cup of the bean cooking liquid and continue to stir and smash. Stir in the lime juice. If you’d like your beans thinner, add more cooking liquid.
Season with salt to taste.
Serve sprinkled with cheese and with lime wedges to squeeze over the top of the beans.
*These instructions describe initially cooking the beans in an instant pot or pressure cooker. You can also cook the beans with the water and 5 cloves of garlic on the stove or in the oven, depending on your desired method. If using canned beans, mince all 10 cloves of garlic to add to the skillet. One pound of dried beans equals about 6 cups cooked.