This is part one of a three part “ethnic foods” series. Come back next month for part two.
Beans, or frijoles in Spanish, are a staple in Central American cuisine. Whether they’re whole beans, re-fried, or mixed with rice, you’ll find some variety of it often in Latin American homes.
I grew up eating black beans and kidney beans mainly and still love them to this day, even though I don’t make them as often. Part of that is because even though they’re easy to make, it’s a long cooking process. Fortunately, the canned variety is available in stores.
Regardless of whether they’re cooked from scratch or canned, there is no doubt about it: beans are healthy for you. Eat Right Ontario, a resource of nutritional information provided by Registered Dietitians says, “Beans are rich in fibre and protein and low in fat, and they have vitamins and minerals such as folate, potassium and iron. “
Lately I’ve had a few people ask me for my refried beans recipe. They are usually surprised at how easy it is so I thought I’d share my recipe with everyone (see below).
With Cinco de Mayo around the corner I recommend making a dish that includes black beans. Last year I compiled a list of five i.e. cinco ideas for you to try.
Canned or dried beans?
Health Canada’s Food guide recommends a 175 mL, (¾ cup) serving of beans. That’s a ¾ cup of fibre, protein and iron, who wouldn’t want that? It’s easy to incorporate beans into any meal of the day.
There is not much difference between dried beans or canned. I’ve broken down their differences below.
|Dried beans||Canned beans|
|Cost||Inexpensive||Cost more than dried beans.|
|Cooking time||Require cooking, can be lengthy depending on the bean. It is beneficial to soak them the night before.||None. Fast and convenient.|
|Nutritional benefits||Rich in fibre, protein, low in fat.||Most contain sodium, but sodium aside they have the same benefits as dried beans. Rinse them before eating.|
My dad makes the best black beans from scratch. That makes his refried beans just a little tastier. To save time, I often make my refried beans from canned beans. The choice is yours, here is my dad’s recipe for refried black beans, including instructions on cooking them from scratch if you so desire.
2 cups dry black beans
8 cups water, divided plus additional if needed
3 garlic gloves (whole)
2 bay leaves
dash of salt (optional)
To soak beans:
Rinse the beans in cold water. Pick through them and discard any wrinkled, discoloured or broken beans and any dirt or tiny stones that may be mixed in. Add black beans to a large pot. Pour 4 cups of cold water over the beans so that the water completely covers the beans. Cover with pot lid and let stand overnight.
To cook beans:
1. Drain the soaked beans and rinse. Return them to pot.
2. Add 4 cups of water to the pot, again making sure the water covers the beans.
3. Add garlic cloves and bay leaves to the pot.
4. Bring to a boil. Cover, leaving a gap to allow steam to escape. Reduce heat and let simmer for 2 hours or until the beans are soft. Add salt once beans start to soften. Check them often to make sure beans are not drying out. Add more water if needed.
5. Drain, if needed and discard garlic cloves and bay leaves before serving.
You can freeze black beans to enjoy in salads or soups at a later date.
Another good option is to whip up a batch of refried beans. The great thing about black beans is that you do not have to add anything to them, but you can if you wish. Spice up your refried beans to your desire. Cumin, cilantro or jalapenos compliment them well.
Refried Black Beans
2 cups cooked or canned black beans; drained (and rinsed if using canned)
1 Tbsp canola oil
Optional add-ins: cumin, cilantro (dry), minced garlic or jalapenos.
- Place beans in a blender. Blend to desired consistency OR mash beans with a potato masher.
- Heat oil in frying pan.
- Add beans. Add optional add-ins if desired.
- Fry until beans are heated through.
Two of our favourite recipes that use black beans are:
What is your go-to black bean recipe?