Refried beans. Definitely not the most attractive foodstuff on the planet, but dang–when done well, I believe that taste firmly trumps looks.
They’re often made with lard, but as a vegetarian, that’s a no-go. So these lard-free refried beans cooked in the Crock Pot are basically my best friend. The version I’m sharing here, Slow Cooker Smoky Refried Black Beans, is a twist on that base recipe. It turns a plain ol’ bag of dried black beans and a few smoky spices into pure bean bliss. It’s true! All you need is your slow cooker, an immersion blender, and only about 15 minutes of hands-on time–if that.
So what can you do with your brand spankin’ new batch of refried black beans after you’ve slow-cooked them up? You can bag them up and freeze them for later. Or top a scoop with melty cheddar cheese for an instant lunch. Mix them with rice and salsa for an easy burrito filling. Or spoon onto tortilla chips and sprinkle with cheese for simple nachos.
Or! How about setting out a tostada spread, inviting over all your friends, and doing tostada night, DIY style?
Crisp corn tortillas, a layer of fancy new refried black beans on top, then toppings–whatever you want. A few ideas:
- Shredded lettuce or other fresh greens
- Sautéed veggies (I like onions, bell peppers, and zucchini sautéed with a bit of oregano)
- Sweet corn
- Roasted squash or other hearty veggies
- Diced avocado or guacamole
- Diced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Pico de gallo
- Shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese
- Crumbled queso fresco, cotija, or even feta
With tostadas and these easy refried black beans, the possibilities are endless.
- 1 pound dry black beans
- 3 cups vegetable broth plus a little more for thinning, if needed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 medium cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt plus additional salt to taste
- Freshly squeeze lime juice for topping optional
- Rinse the beans and pick through them, discarding any debris. Place the beans in a 3-quart or larger slow cooker and fill it with water to about 2-3 inches above the beans. Cover and let sit overnight, or for 8-12 hours.
- Pour the beans into a colander to discard the soaking water. Rinse and return the beans to the slow cooker.
- Add the vegetable broth, olive oil, garlic, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and salt. Stir.
- Cook on low for 8-10 hours, until the beans are cooked through.
- Turn the slow cooker off and remove the lid to allow the beans to cool slightly.
- Before pureeing, check the liquid level: Slow cookers can vary, so if you find that the liquid is still above the level of the beans when it comes time to puree them, you may want to skim a little of the liquid and reserve it for thinning later on.
- With an immersion blender or by working in batches with a high-powered blender or food processor, carefully puree beans until your desired consistency is reached (you might like your beans to be 100% smooth, or chunky with a few beans still left whole).
- Turn the slow cooker back on the low setting and let beans cook for another 30 minutes to thicken.
- Check the consistency; if the beans are too thick, add additional vegetable broth and stir. If they're too thin, let them sit and cook for a little longer.
- Taste and add additional salt if needed and squeeze half a lime over the beans right before serving, if desired.