Tuesday, March 24

Recipe: Quick and Easy Refried Black Bean Dip with Tomatoes, Onions, and Cilantro

Going Bonkers for Canned Beans

Leftover Grilled Pork and Garden Tomatoes Became a Quick and Healthy Late Summer Lunch

I'm a big fan of canned beans. I buy them by the case and always have stacks of them on hand in the pantry. They're cheap, convenient, keep for ages, and go with practically everything. Don't get me wrong—I think it's great that everybody seems to be jumping on the dried bean bandwagon these days (my Roasted Garlic Lover's White Bean Soup is one of the most searched for recipes on Farmgirl Fare), and I'll be the first to admit that canned beans aren't as tasty as home cooked.

But while I live for slow food and cooking from scratch—and routinely let homemade chicken stock simmer for five or six hours on the stove (which not only tastes fabulous but makes the house smell so good)—last year's plan to start cooking up a pound of dried beans once a week still has yet to begin. Sometimes you just need to bypass your best intentions and head for the canned bean aisle instead, because everybody knows that canned beans are infinitely better than no beans.

For years I've snacked on garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas) simply rinsed and sprinkled with salt. I also toss them into everything from Arugula Pesto to Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup. A handful of garbanzos or kidney beans can turn a salad into a meal, and canned black beans are the star of my Mexican Jumping Bean Slaw.

A while back I discovered cannellini beans, which are sometimes called white kidney beans, and quickly began adding them to everything from Greek Salad to summer squash saut├ęs. Then I got hooked on white bean spreads, which have to be the easiest appetizer ever. Plunk a rinsed can of beans, some sort of flavoring, and a little olive oil into the food processor and whiz for a couple of seconds. I started with pesto and quickly moved onto pretty much anything in the pantry: artichokes, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and that yummy olive bruschetta stuff sold in pretty octagonal jars at Trader Joe's. White bean spread is guilt-free and addictive.

Full of fiber and nutrients and a good source of protein, beans are one of the healthiest foods around, and moderation isn't really necessary. But when I began craving cold leftover baked beans for breakfast a while back, I started to get a little concerned. And when I found myself standing in the kitchen scooping up refried black beans straight from the can with tortilla chips, I knew I could do better.

So what do you like to do with canned beans?

Quick and Easy Refried Black Bean Dip

This is the kind of thing I love to have in the fridge because it keeps me from grabbing a cookie or a slice of chocolate cake or a handful of cheese and crackers instead of something healthier and more substantial when I walk into the kitchen starving. It's incredibly versatile and can be made in summer with juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes or in winter with some good canned tomatoes.

Use it thick as a dip with tortilla chips or a burrito filling, or thin it out and top a platter of nachos. You can even turn it into a dressing for a Tex-Mex inspired salad like the impromptu one pictured above that I made last summer with heirloom tomatoes from the kitchen garden and chunks of leftover grilled pork.

As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients, as they really do make a difference in so many ways. Quality of canned beans can vary greatly by brand, and I've found that the organic ones taste best. Cans of organic beans are readily available in natural foods stores and many supermarkets and can often be found for the bargain price of about a dollar apiece. Some stores, such as Whole Foods, will even give you a case discount if you stock up and buy 12 cans at a time.

1 can refried black beans (I like the jalapeno flavored kind)
1 cup chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1/4 cup (or more*) chopped onions or scallions
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin (freshly ground is amazing)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 4-1/2 ounce can chopped mild green chilies or 1/2 cup salsa
Large handful cilantro, chopped

Sour cream
Shredded cheese
Chopped scallions
Chopped tomatoes
Avocado chunks

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. This dip tastes best after the flavors have had a chance to mingle, so try to make it up at least a few hours before serving and let it chill in the fridge. Serve warm or cold, garnished as desired.

Still hungry? Here are more Farmgirl Fare recipes that call for canned beans:
Arugula Pesto, Arugula Pesto Cream Cheese Spread, & Arugula Pesto Pizza
Basil Pesto and White Bean Spread
Colors of Summer Tomato and Fresh Vegetable Salad
Mexican Jumping Bean Slaw & Quick Vegetarian Tacos
Swiss Chard Cabbage Salad with Cottage Cheese and Broccoli Stalks
Fast Black Bean Soup/Chili
Broccoli, Onion, and Garbanzo Bean Soup
Roasted Red Pepper, Tomato, and Artichoke Soup
Quick Cream (or Not) of Artichoke Soup
Swiss Chard Artichoke Soup with Garbanzo Beans

*6/09 update: I'm loving my sweet spring onions from the garden so much I tossed at least a cup of them into today's batch of dip. Delicious!

© Copyright 2009 FarmgirlFare.com, the bonkers for beans foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, and photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres—and leftover baked beans for breakfast are actually rather tasty, especially when warmed up and served over a piece of toasted homemade honey bran bread.


  1. Another big fan of canned beans here - recently discovered Roman beans, which taste like nuttier cannellini beans and are attractively speckled.

    Love the blog - keep up the good work!


  2. I mash up left over black beans and put them on a flour tortilla and sprinkle that with some cheese
    put a flour tortilla on that and pan fry it till golden brown and crisp and cut it up and dip into salsa that I made. Oh with a little sour cream. I often eat it for breakfast.

  3. I love your blog! Our fave canned bean recipe is a Italian Sausage Bean and Spinach Soup on RecipeZaar. The flavor is fabulous! It uses cannellini beans, leafy greens(fresh or frozen, I've used chard, kale and spinach), some kind of dried pasta and canned tomatoes. Fast, easy, pantry friendly and absolutely yummy.

  4. This sounds fantastic. I'm a big fan of cannellini beans too!

  5. I love refried beans, dips and anything Tex-Mex! Your recipe is really tempting!



  6. Another fan of canned beans here - I like to make a "chili" of various beans (kidney, pinto, black beans) and a little corn for a fast warm up meal. Yes I often cook beans from the dried state to the plate - but pop open a can of black beans - heat a tortilla and get out the onion, cheese and salsa - life is good!

  7. Love beans (and canned ones are so convenient!). I just made a white chicken chili w/Navy beans yesterday - delicious! Now, I'm going to give some of your recipes a try - thanks for sharing all of these. Everything I've ever tried from your site is soooooo yummy!!

  8. Yum! Always have canned beans around for chili and other stuff. My fave quick "what the heck am i making for dinner" is canned beans (usually cannelini or roman), sausage (always have some yummy chicken sausage WF or AlFresco in the freezer), flavoring (pesto, garlic, even dried herbs), veggie (broccoli, broc rabe, zucchini, spinach/chard, tomatoes...sometimes a combo), with pasta. Use some of the pasta cooking water and/or chicken broth to make a little bit of sauce. Add parmaggiano. Fast, delicious. Obviously it could be made with other meat, like chicken, or meatless, which is also delicious.

  9. I use cannellini beans in a white chicken chili recipe.. so good. The black bean dip looks great!

  10. Here is a favorite recipe using black beans - similar to yours:

    Black Bean Salad

    1 16 oz. can black beans, drain, rinse, drain
    1 8 oz. can whole kernel corn, drain
    4 oz. Monterrey Jack cheese, diced
    3/4 cup chopped green onions, with tops
    3/4 cup diced celery
    1 small green or red sweet bell pepper, diced

    Mix all the above together and add dressing of:

    3/4 cup medium or mild salsa, the chunky style
    1 TB olive oil
    2 TB lemon juice
    1 t. ground cumin
    1 clove garlic, minced

    Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley if desired; serve as a side salad or dip with chips.

  11. I just wanted ot let everyone know that Amazon is running a "Buy 3, Get 1 FREE" on the bread pans. That discount, plus free shipping, scored me 4 pans for $32.00. WooHoo!

    I got my beautiful big wooden bowl from eBay today, "Amy's Bread" is on the way and I got my Oat Bran from the Health Food store.

    I cannot WAIT to smell the aroma of homebaked bread and that first bite with butter melting on it! Heaven!

  12. I'm a huge fan of beans, canned and dried. In the food processor I blend a bit of sauteed onion and garlic with a can of canellini beans, 1/2 a baked potato, a few shakes of hot sauce, lemon and olive oil. I call it Tuscan Hummus and it's great on freshly baked bread.

    Thanks for this post!

  13. your dip kinda looks like a hot mess, and i mean that in the nicest way. i could seriously sit down with a bowl full of it and lick it clean, i enjoy the components that much. :)

  14. If you like plain salted chick peas, you can have them salty and crunchy too!

    Just rinse canned chick peas, blot dry and toss in a big bowl.
    Mix with just enough olive oil to coat and coarse salt
    Spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 400, stirring every 15 minutes until crunchy (about an hour)


  15. I maybe went a little overboard last year with a dip made from cannellini beans and garlic scapes. Man, that was good. Eating too much of it can make you unpopular at parties, though, what with the, um, effect beans can have on your digestive system.

  16. Just a couple nights ago I was making tequila/chili/lime tilapia and was trying to think up side dishes when I spied a can of spicy black beans (they come with little chunks of jalapenos in them) and remembered the pineapple that I had purchased for snacking. I threw the beans into a small saucepan and diced up some pineapple and heated it all together and served it over the fished. It turned out quite tasty, kind of a spicy and sweet relish/salsa thing.


  17. I just mixed up your dip and it is tasty already, without the time to meld. I used 1/2 can fire-roasted tomatoes and the green chiles. Cannot wait for lunchtime (frankly, salsa for breakfast just isn't my thing...) Keep up the great recipes and photos - my three year old loves the sheep pictures!

  18. Do you happen to have a good recipe for refried beans?

    Between the cost and the sodium, I've been cooking my own beans for a couple of years -- soaked over night, it's really easy to let a big crock pot full of beans cook through the day. I don't add anything during the initial cooking, and freeze them in glass jars, which are the perfect size for pulling out and using one at a time for tortilla soup or a little thing we call cowboy breakfast (beans, jalapenos, and cornbread topped with a fried egg).

    But, I would love a homemade refried bean recipe that isn't too messy. Past adventures have resulted in lots of pans with burned-on beans.

  19. Beans are the best! My fav is to mix 2 cans black beans, 1 can corn, toss in some diced red onion, bell pepper, anything else that sounds good, then dress it with lime juice, olive oil, cumin, and some garlic powder. Yum! Simple, easy, great lunch or side dish for dinner. Good hot or cold, too!

  20. I love beans, too! I even am having them for lunch today! Canned black-eyed peas, chopped yellow bell pepper, red onion and grape tomatoes. The dressing is made of dijon, cider vinegar, a little olive oil and fresh parsley - delicious!

  21. When you said that you craved baked beans for breakfast you made me fondly remember my great uncle Alfred who would top his pancakes with a generous helping of Boston Baked Beans. I have to say I tried this dish and I loved it!

    And as Nicole said prior to my post Roasted Chickpeas are the best! I use chickpeas and fava beans, roasting them seperately and then mixing them together when still warm to make a great salty/crunchy snack. This mixture (chic & fave) is also served quite often at Italian feasts. Yum...

    Thanks for invoking such warm memories.

  22. Ooooo - you're making me hungry! If I had the ingredients, I'd be making this right this minute!

  23. I've got dried black beans soaking right now. I love beans. We have some kind of bean dish every Monday, at least. I got that from my New Orleans relatives, where Monday is both laundry day and red beans and rice day.

    We drove down to Elephant Rocks yesterday and I thought, how does a person live way out here. And then I thought of this blog!

  24. Wow,, nice blog,, love the food ;)

  25. This looks really good. I may have to try this sometime.

  26. What a lovely spread! Makes me long for summer.
    I am the same as you - vowed to cook with beans once a week this year. I dutifully filled untold mason jars with every kind I could find.
    If I don't preplan and want to make them that night - I just stick some in the small slow cooker on low for the day.
    I do keep canned chickpeas on hand - they seem to be the best at keeping their structure - I like them with just some salt and pepper or tossed on a big salad with lots of veggies, hard boiled eggs and cheese for a dinner.
    I love refried beans too, mmmm...

  27. This looks great. I have just tried dried beans and I must admit my first attempt did not go very well. I tried to speed up the process by simmering beans for several hours (chick peas.) They were still tough!

  28. Oh my word - I made this over the weekend and it was great! A much better version than the typical 7-layer dip. Yum!

  29. I have a love affair with beans, too - cannellini beans make an excellent hummus, too (just make it exactly as you would with chickpeas). my friends and I make something very similar to your black bean dip - we call it "mexican mess" which now refers to anything that you can dip.

    love the blog!

  30. I was made this cannellini beans and garlic scapes for dinner tonight, and it was delicious! I was a little nervous it wouldn't have enough depth of flavor, but it turned out scrumptious. thank you for shearing your post.

  31. Personally, I think beans are generally yucky, but I eat them because they're good for you. That said, I threw this together just now as a dip, and it was wonderful. So is your black bean soup. Thanks Susan!


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

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