Refried beans

I’d been at work all day, and he was ill.  No cooking had been done, and tummies were growling.

One package of tortilla wraps, the end of a block of cheddar, and the scrapings from a tub of creme fraiche magically became a meal with the addition of this wonderfully satisfying and totally meat-free concoction.  It’s equally good as a topping for a baked potato, or the base for cheesy nachos.

First, obtain some cooked beans.  You can open a few tins of kidney beans, or alternatively cook your own from dried.  I prefer the tiny military-tan adzuki beans for my recipe as they are easy to store, and cook relatively quickly in the pressure cooker (here’s my preferred reference for pressure cooking times).  One tip: if you are cooking your own beans, the flavour is greatly improved by adding a bay leaf to the pressure cooker before cooking.

You’ll need about three cups of cooked beans, or the drained contents of two tins, to make enough refried beans to feed 4 – 6 hungry adults.

From there, the recipe is easy.


  • 2 tins beans, drained, or 3 cups cooked beans
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tomato, chopped, or half a tin of tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf (if you didn’t cook your own beans with one in already)
  • half a teaspoon red chilli flakes, or less of chilli powder
  • salt to taste
  • oil for frying
  • coriander leaf to garnish (optional)


  1. Saute the onion and garlic until soft.
  2. Add the tomatoes, chilli and bay leaf and mix well.
  3. Add the beans and mash (ideally using a potato masher) into the sauce until everything is pureed. It’s up to you how much texture you decide to leave.
  4. Add salt if needed.
  5. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, with the lid off until the puree starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Garnish with the coriander leaf if desired.

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