Smokey Refried Bean

An easy plant-based lunch

If you want a little kick to your lunchtime cuisine, look no further than smoky refried beans.  I used this healthy recipe as an alternative to the endless pizza I would see at most medical school lunch events.  It’s a versatile dish that can be made in large batches, and with a few tweaks, can become a black bean soup, a seven-layer dip, a vegetable bowl, or a taco base.  Over the years, I’ve enjoyed the smokiness and spice so much that it’s become one of our weekly staples. Enjoy!

Yield: 4 servings (double recipe if you want leftovers!)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes


•     1 cup of dried black beans

•     1 medium onion, diced (yellow or red, whatever you have!)

•     2 medium tomatoes (or, in a pinch, a ½ jar of your favorite salsa)

•     2 tsp minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves)

•     1 cup of vegetable broth (or water)


•     1.5 tsp cumin

•     1.5 tsp coriander

•     ½ tsp turmeric

•     ½ tsp garlic powder

•     1 tsp smoked paprika (this makes a huge difference and gives the beans a meaty taste without making them spicy)

•     Salt, to taste (approximately 1/2 tsp)

•     ½ tsp black pepper

•     Chilis in adobo sauce: puree the entire jar.


1) Soak beans overnight, add to low-heat Crockpot in the morning, cook all day while at work. The beans need about 4 inches of water over them to cook properly.  Once the beans are cooked, strain them in a colander, then set aside.

2) Next, dice the onion and fresh garlic cloves, and set them aside in a bowl.  Dice the tomatoes and set aside in a separate bowl as well. 

3) Heat a large saucepot over medium-high heat (I use a Dutch oven) and add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

4) Warm a pan, add the diced onions and garlic.  Stir occasionally.  After 2-3 minutes, add the spices and stir often.  (Adding the spices early really helps the flavors come out). 

5) Add ½ cup of either water, vegetable stock, or your favorite local beer and deglaze the pan. 

6) Once the onions are soft and cooked through, add the diced tomatoes (or a half-jar of salsa), along with the adobe chilis. 

7) Add another ½ cup of liquid.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the tomatoes are fully cooked down. 

8) Next, add the cooked, strained black beans, and mix.  If you like the beans whole, add them to your dish and you’re done.  If you like them mashed, add another ½ cup of liquid and, using a potato masher, mash the beans until they are a consistency you prefer.  If you like them smooth, then you can blend with an immersion blender or food processor. 

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