The term refried beans is another one of those misnomers since you don't really have to fry even once. Instead, the beans are first cooked in water, then mashed and cooked again, with or without a little oil.
If you want to be a purist (and save a few shekels), you can start out with dried beans, let 'em soak overnight, then drain, add more water and simmer several hours. But unlike many other convenience foods, canned beans aren't that much more expensive unless you are cooking for an army (or a couple of teenagers). Plus the time-savings is significant; the hardest part is finding the can opener after the kids "helped" you by emptying the dish drainer.
It's a bit different, however, with refried beans. Even with half the label on a can of refried beans consisting of ingredients and nutritional info, there might be strange and scary things in it, like "natural flavor." I expanded upon what I think about "natural flavor" in another post. But right now it's getting late, and I want to show you how easy it is to make make refried beans yourself out of a can o'beans.
For those who panic at the thought of a recipe without measurements, I threw some in. But as in chicken soup, taste is in the eye of the beholder, so feel free to adjust the amount of garlic or whatever else you think is needed. You can mix in a little olive oil at the end if you think it's a little dry, but it's not really necessary. If you want to dress it up, add a 1/2 cup of chopped onions or a teaspoon of ground chipotle chili pepper with the rest of the ingredients.
Vegetarian Refried Beans
makes about 1 cup
1 15.5 or 16 oz. can pink beans
1 cup water
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Drain and rinse beans well, then dump into a small saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover and bring almost to a boil over medium-high heat.
Remove from heat, uncover and puree with a hand blender.
Kind of disgusting looking, ain't it. Don't worry, it will look better in 10-15 minutes.
Return to a boil, (watch the pot because it may splatter) then turn the heat down to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, or until it reduces to almost the desired thickness. It will continue to thicken slightly after cooking.
Here is how it looked when I turned off the flame. Remove from heat. Taste and add more garlic, salt and/or chili powder, if desired. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.