Sipping your vegetables via smoothies was cool, then came football season.
Suddenly, smoothies are out. They’re not game-worthy, not macho enough.
And what is? Texas A&M’s 4-foot Aggiedog? Egregious.
Meatless can be manly. And satisfying. A new Journal of Food Science study confirms that beans provide the same happy satisfaction of beef without the cow, cruelty, cholesterol or extra calories.
Beans — not cheese, not salsa and certainly not an Aggiedog — are the key to gloopy game day nachos, the unsung but essential underpinning of successful seven-layer dip. Refried beans add fiber and protein, sure, but also a luscious mouthfeel and a sense of meatiness without the meat.
Canned refried beans earn you a five-yard penalty.
Most are sodium-soaked, like Old El Paso traditional refried beans (16 ounces, $1.59) with 440 milligrams sodium per half-cup serving. Amy’s Organic light sodium refried beans (15.4 ounces, $2.89) have 190 milligrams of salt per serving, but as with all commercial refried beans, come out the can looking like dog food.
There’s a better way. Refry your own. Homemade refried beans taste so much better than commercially made, you will never eat that blob of putty on your Mex mix plate again.
In a double-overtime situation, you can make respectable refried beans using canned beans, rinsed and drained.
But for maximum yumminess and refried beans that hug your chips not your hips, start with dried beans. They’re easily the best value in your supermarket.
A 16-ounce bag of Rico brand coloradas (large red beans) costs $1.89 and cooks up to six times the beanly yield of a 16-ounce can.
Explore bean varieties far beyond basic black and pinto, like midnight black beans and domingo rojos from the heirloom beanmeisters at Rancho Gordo (16 ounces, $5.95), ranchogordo.com.
Closer to home, there’s local organic heirloom frijol de seda, red silky beans from Abigail Farms (16 ounces, $8) available through Bee Heaven Farm.
Traditionally, refried beans are fried in lard. Don’t even think about it.
Loaded nachos will never be a substitute for a juice cleanse, but you can load nachos the right way.
Dial down — or delete — the dairy. Pump up the produce by scattering on roasted or sauteed zucchini, onions and peppers.
Slip in fresh, chopped spinach leaves, even diced tofu. And don’t forget the refried beans.
Beats an Aggiedog.
Ellen Kanner: firstname.lastname@example.org, @edgyveggie1.
Game Day Refried Beans
Source: Ellen Kanner, who says to serve the beans with chips, stuff them into a tortilla or add to nachos or seven-layer dips.
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 jalapeño, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
Pinch cayenne pepper or chipotle powder, if desired
2 cups cooked pinto or black beans
1/2 cup bean cooking liquid reserved
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 handful of cilantro, chopped
Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until fragrant and translucent.
Add the minced garlic and jalapeño and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the cumin, coriander, optional cayenne or chipotle and the beans. Cook, stirring together, then pour in reserved bean liquid. Stir everything together gently then reduce heat to medium.
Mixture will seem soupy at first, then thicken as it heats through and the bean mashing commences. Get your game face on and mash by hand, using a large wooden spoon or potato masher for about 10 minutes or until you’ve broken up the beans and the mixture comes together with a consistency slightly thicker than hummus. You can also mash using an immersion blender, but aim for a rustic texture, rather than a fluffy, uniform puree.
Season generously with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Top with chopped cilantro.
Yield: About 2 cups, or 4 servings.