Saturday, February 28, 2009

Homemade Refried Beans plus Garlic, Lime & Cilantro Marinated Opah: Healthy Mexican Food!

I have been trying to cook with more dried beans lately, so I was interested in this recipe for Refried Pinto Beans that I found in the Oregonian FOODday, the paper's weekly food section, while I was visiting my Mom. I love refried beans and liked the fact that these were made with olive oil and that you could add your own flavors and spices. 

Refried Pinto Beans
by Matthew Card, The Oregonian FOODday, February 10, 2009
(Makes 4
to 6 Servings)

Matthew Card says: "A great batch of beans begins at the store. Look for dried beans that are smooth and shiny; a cracked or dull-looking surface can indicate age or improper storage, which can lead to uneven cooking. Feel free to add a slice or two of bacon to the simmering beans for a richer flavor (remove and discard before puréeing). While the carrot adds natural sweetness, you may prefer the beans with an added teaspoon or two of brown sugar."

1 pound dried pinto beans, sorted well, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed, plus 2 cloves minced (divided)
½ medium white onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
3 sprigs fresh cilantro (or 3 sprigs fresh epazote or 1½ teaspoons dried epazote or Mexican oregano, available at some Latino markets)
2 bay leaves
6 cups water, plus more as needed
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon ancho or New Mexico chile powder (or paprika)
Lime juice, to taste

In a large saucepan combine beans, smashed garlic, onion, carrot, cilantro, bay leaves and 6 cups water. Bring to simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 1½ to 2 hours (adding water ½ cup a time as needed to keep beans just covered). Add salt to taste and cook 10 minutes more.

Remove bay leaves and purée beans in food processor or blender until smooth. To the empty pan, add olive oil, minced garlic and chile powder and cook over medium-high heat until sizzling and chile powder darkens, about 2 minutes. Add beans and stir well to incorporate. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently, until flavors have blended and beans have thickened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add lime juice to taste and serve.

Notes/Results: Smooth, creamy beans with great flavor. I followed the basic recipe but used about 1/2 the oil, For my herbs and spices I used cilantro, Mexican oregano, chili powder and smokey-hot paprika and got slightly spicy and smokey beans. Much better than the canned variety. I will make these again.

The beans were perfect as a side for some local opah (moonfish), cut into large chunks and marinated in a little olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper. I threaded the opah on skewers and cooked it in on my grill pan, about 4 minutes per side. Served with a salad of locally grown: greens, tomatoes, jicama and avocado, dressed with a little olive oil and lime juice and accompanied by a cumin-cilantro spiced brown rice with pine nuts, it was a delicious and healthy dinner.

And the leftover Opah made great chunky fish tacos the next day, (with red cabbage, tomato, avocado, cilantro and a cumin-spiked yogurt sauce), and served with a scoop of the beans and some lime wedges. The leftover beans also made great quesadillas with a bit of low-fat cheese on whole-wheat tortillas.


  1. Opah!
    I can still picture Mario toting one under his arm in Iron Chef.
    Dinner looks like an effulgent abundance of flavour and texture - all fresh and alive.
    So great that you can get such wonderful ingredients fresh there.
    What do we have in season here? Squash. It keeps well..

  2. mmm mexican! love it! will have to try making my own refried beans, I have tried Ellie Krieger's bean dip recipe, this one sounds good too!

  3. You know,I am trying to learn to cook more dried beans as well. And I have a bag of pinto beans in my pantry right now..........

  4. I love refried beans, especially your healthier take on them. Mexican flavors are so great and Mexican cuisine is actually one of the easiest things to "healthify"!

  5. I love this healthy take on refried beans - now I can indulge without the lard-laden guilt!

  6. Healthy Mexican food sounds almost like an oxymoron. Glad you found a way to lighten up one of my favorite cuisines.

  7. When I finally made homemade refried beans I was surprised at how easy it was and how good!

  8. This is wonderful !! I would like to try it now !

  9. it all looks so wonderful! those beans are calling to me...

  10. Wow, that looks delicious! I love all the colors and flavors!

  11. Fresh and light mexican food, it looks so healthy. I'm a big fan of both olive oil and refried beans, I need to look into combining the two!

  12. When I was in Kauai, last October, I discovered Opah and I loved it! How I wish we could get it, fresh, here.

    I bought fresh fruit at the local Farmer's market and made a citrus salsa with cilantro (though, in Hawaii I guess they call it Chinese Parsley. Duh. Man, that was amazing fish! Mild and great with cilantro.

    Me, being half Mexican, I zeroed in on this meal. I'll bet is great.


Mahalo for visiting and for leaving a comment. I love reading them and they mean a lot!

All advertising, spam, inappropriate (or just plain rude) comments will be promptly deleted. I do appreciate your right to free speech and to your opinion but I'm not into mean, rude, or mean snarky (non-mean snarky is just fine!) ;-)