Homemade refried beans require little effort, but do need a long, lazy simmer on the back of the stove. For perfectly smooth and silky beans, follow the simmer with an overnight nap in the fridge, then a warm-up and short simmer the next day just before serving.
I’m a big fan of the classic enchilada platter with its huge helpings of beans and rice taking up nearly half the plate. Simple, plain beans work perfectly with the more complicated flavors of the enchiladas and their sauce.
But for a snack, it’s fun to dress up the beans in the spirit of a ramen bowl. The bowl pictured above is garnished with radishes, purple chives flowers, white onion, tomato, Chinese garlic chives, and shredded cheddar and swiss cheeses. The sauce bowl is simply plain greek yogurt with a spoonful of homemade sodium-free taco seasoning stirred in. Yum.
Low Sodium Refried Beans
Making refried beans from scratch puts you in control of how much sodium goes in, if any. This recipe doesn't include salt as an added ingredient, and I don't think it's needed.
Fill a medium-sized saucepan with water and add the dry pinto beans. Simmer on medium heat for 1 hour.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the simmering beans.
Continue simmering on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, or as long as needed for the beans to start to soften. Add more water as needed to keep the beans covered.
When the beans soften, mash them in the pot with a potato masher, or use the back of a large spoon to press them against the sides of the saucepan to break them up.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool.
Remove the bay leaf, and move the beans into a storage container to refrigerate overnight.
The next day, put the beans back in a saucepan and re-heat. If the beans haven't yet fallen apart to a mushy texture, simmer as long as needed for them to become soft and smooth.
After you've cooked your first pot of beans, consider how you'd like to alter the spices. Garlic lovers may wish to use a few crushed fresh cloves rather than a pinch of garlic powder. Add more heat, or leave out the pepper flakes completely. It's all up to you! Make this basic side dish into your own signature beans.