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Homemade Vegan Refried Beans

Cow-free Tex-Mex goodness

I feel like a lot of Mexican restaurants get a little confused as to what "vegetarian" really means. Sure, they might offer a meatless version of their signature tacos, but chances are their rice and beans are still going to be laden with the same cow drippings as they are in the meaty dishes. Most kitchens aren't going to bother to keep two separate vats of refried beans stewing at the same time just to please the herbivores, so they dish out the same lardy stuff whether you order your burrito with steak or without. 

I was pretty bummed out when I realized how not at all vegan most refried beans are because they're among my top ten favorite things to put in my mouth. I may be a simple creature, but there's little I love more than wrapping a tortilla around brown bean goo or just heating up a bowl and topping it with some baby spinach and salsa. It's such an easy pleasure, and it's also a good source of protein and fiber for my plant-fed self. I used to rely on the Trader Joe's canned beans (they come in both pinto and black) for my refried fix, but I realized that buying the pre-made stuff wasn't the most economical method of getting my bean on when I would go through a 99-cent can in about a day and a half. So I decided to be a Mexican side dish renegade and start from the ground up--with the dry legume. I make my refried beans entirely from scratch now. It's much cheaper and so, so delicious. Here is how.

You don't need much at all for this recipe. It's almost insultingly easy for how tasty the result can get. Just get your paws on some dried beans (pinto is the standard, but I like to mix it up and mash some black beans every now and again), a small onion (white, not sweet), some garlic, cayenne pepper, salt, coconut oil and maybe some jalepenos if you're feeling fancy. You'll also want a pot that's on the small side to ensure you're not spreading your beans too thin while you're destroying them into a delicious paste. 

First, you'll want to pre-cook the dry beans. I use a crock pot for this because I can set it to cook while I'm away at work. Just rinse and sort your dry beans, throw them in the slow cooker, then add about three cups of water for every cup of beans. Toss in some salt, set the pot on high and come back to it in about five or six hours. If you don't have a slow cooker, just let everything simmer in a regular pot on the stove for two or three hours. Once your beans are nice and tender, sautee your onion and garlic in some coconut oil in a small pot. (Coconut oil is like the lard of the plant kingdom; it's soft, thick, fatty and I could eat a whole jar with a spoon if I lacked self-restraint.) Once your onions are translucent, sprinkle everything with a little cayenne pepper, jalepenos and/or other spices of your choice. After about a minute, add your cooked beans and their broth. Bring to a simmer and let them stew. You can start to mash them with a fork as they're cooking after about ten minutes. Add more water or more coconut oil as you see fit. Once they're the consistency you desire, turn off the heat and revel in your tasty, goopy creation. It looks like primordial clay because that's what it is.