When I traveled to Mexico during the summer of 2013, I wasn’t a big fan of Mexican food. I didn’t like avocado, hated anything spicy, ran away from jalapeños, and thought most dishes were way too oily. My thoughts have changed since then — I have learned to love avocado (it was about time) and have started cooking healthier Mexican meals at home, serving them with some spicy sauce on the side for those who like it hot.
Mexican food is a real crowd-pleaser and is perfect for a themed dinner party with a large group of friends. Everyone can share everything — from guacamole and fajitas to tacos and nachos.
If I had to pick one dish that you see on the menus of Mexican restaurants 99% of the time, it has to be refried beans — or frijoles refritos as they call them in Spanish. This staple dish, as its name suggests, is in fact a bean purée that is fried. As we’re all about favoring healthy meals over fried and fattening ones at home, I’ve been making my own version of Mexican frijoles; minus the fat, but with just as much flavor!
This is not a dip like frijoles refritos is, but more of a side dish or a meal in itself. The original recipe from Taste suggests using canned red kidney beans, which will decrease your cooking time by at least an hour. However I like to use dry red kidney beans, and although they take a while to cook, there’s really nothing quite like the real deal. You’ll have to soak them overnight or for at least 8 hours prior to cooking, which not only softens them but also helps break down the compounds that can cause gas.
There are several ingredients you can add in this recipe to give it a new twist each time:
Green or yellow bell pepper
Sour cream (on top when serving)
Avocado slices (on top when serving)
The sky is the limit! Whatever you choose, don’t forget to serve the red kidney beans with some rice on the side. We’ve been enjoying them with brown rice, its rich nutty flavor going so beautifully well with the beans.
- 1 cup dry red kidney beans
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- ½ red bell pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional if you like spicy)
- 400g canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt (or more, depending on taste)
- Black pepper
- 1 cup water
- 140g canned corn kernels
- Rinse the dry kidney beans and soak them in a bowl with plenty of water overnight or for at least 8 hours. Leave covered on the kitchen counter. After being soaked, rinse the beans again and discard the soaking water. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Fry the onion and garlic cloves for 3 minutes until softened. Add the bell pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper (if using) and fry for 3 more minutes until softened.
- Add the canned crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, black pepper and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 1 hour 30 minutes until the beans are completely cooked through and soft.
- Add the corn kernels and mix to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve warm over white or brown rice.