A Mexican meal often doesn't feel complete without a generous helping of refried beans. Easy to cook, heat and serve, these beans make a great filling for tacos, tamales and burritos and a fantastic Tex-Mex side dish. Whether you mash and fry your own beans or buy ready-to-eat beans in a can, cook this protein-rich dish in a flash using several different methods.
Traditionally, refried beans are made from cooked pinto beans fried with onion and lard or oil, and mashed. Follow your favorite refried bean recipe and use a skillet or pan on your stove top for quick frying. Heating canned refried beans on a stove top helps ensure that all the beans are evenly heated throughout. You may need to add a small amount of water, oil or broth to keep beans from sticking as they heat. Your beans should be warm in less than five minutes.
Use the microwave to cook and heat refried beans if you're in a hurry. Empty the canned refried beans on a plate or bowl before popping them into the microwave. If you like, mix in additional ingredients like cheese or spices before microwaving the beans. You can also use the microwave instead of a stove top for making your own refried beans. Just heat the oil, mashed beans and any desired mix-ins together in a microwave safe dish.
You can cook refried beans in the oven alone, but oven-cooking is especially handy if you're making a Mexican casserole or layered nachos. Add canned pinto beans mashed with oil to a baking dish. Add ingredients like chips, sour cream and ground meat to the dish if you want to make nachos or a casserole, or just cook the beans alone. This method also works well with canned or leftover refried beans.
Serve Cold or at Room Temperature
Refried beans are typically served warm, but you can serve them cold in a salad or as a party dip for chips and crackers. For a quick appetizer or snack, open a can of refried beans or mash canned pinto beans with broth and oil. Blend the beans with cheese, sour cream or cream cheese -- or a combination of dip ingredients. Top refried beans with beef, salsa, olives, cheese, chilies and lettuce to make a seven-layer dip.
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Sarah Badger is a certified pilates and group fitness instructor, writer and dance teacher. Her work has appeared in "Dance Spirit" magazine and several literary journals. Badger earned her bachelor's degree in English and religious studies from Marymount Manhattan College, and currently owns a dance and fitness studio in upstate New York.