Meatless Monday – Tacos with Refried Beans and Spanish Rice

I don’t know about you, but it feels like Monday comes so fast?!  That’s not even because I don’t like Mondays.  I like them, I am strange, I know.  They come fast because I think about this post and what recipe I want to share with you all for your own meatless meal.  Since we eat mostly meatless meals in our home, it should be easy, but it isn’t because some of what I make simply isn’t “blog” worthy.  What I want to share today is, however, a definite must on your list of meals that can easily be prepared without meat.  It’s easy, inexpensive, and super healthy!  When I announce it’s taco night in our home the kids both get really excited.  Maybe it’s because the table is filled with yummy and colorful goodness! Yeah, let’s go with that!  There are some pretty good meat substitutes our there and one company even has one that they call “taco stuffers,” but I prefer to use refried beans as one of the fillings in our meatless tacos.  Making them from scratch is super easy and so much cheaper than buying canned beans.  Also, there is BPA in canned foods, so avoiding them is really important.  If you are in a time crunch, which happens to me sometimes, I buy Eden brand canned beans.  They are BPA-free and their beans are super delicious!
Okay, so for taco night I make homemade Spanish rice (once you make it from scratch, you won’t want to buy boxed rice ever again), homemade refried beans, and do lots of dicing and chopping! I literally start working on the different dishes in the morning because beans and rice need to be soaked!  So, let’s get started!
First, here’s what you need for the Spanish Rice:

  • 1 cup brown rice (Yes, I said brown!  It’s healthy and with all the flavor, you won’t even notice!)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (any kind will do, but I love vidalia or red for this dish)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder ( I prefer one clove of fresh garlic, minced)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce

*First thing in the morning, put the rice in a bowl with 2 cups of water and soak all day! Soaking brings out even more health benefits and actually makes the rice more fluffy when you cook it!*

Here’s what you do:

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Cook the rice (without the water) and onion in oil for about 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions are soft.
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and heat to boiling.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.  Uncover for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

That’s it!  Isn’t that super easy?  Get the kids in the kitchen and have them help with all the dicing and chopping.  We have some pretty dull knives that do the job of chopping, which makes them safe for the kids to use.  Also, I typically double this recipe.  It feeds the four of us and provides some leftovers, too!

Here’s what you need for the Refried Beans:

  • 1 cup dry pinto beans (or two 15 oz. cans of Eden brand beans drained and rinsed well)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped (2 if you like the flavor!)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (for flavor)
  • 1/4 cup salsa (adds great flavor, but omit if you don’t have it)

*Just like with the rice, start your bean preparation in the morning!*

Here’s what you do for the refried beans:

  1. Cooking the beans: soak 4 or more hours (quick soak – use boiling water), rinse, cover with cold water (no salt).
  2. Bring to boil, skim foam, cover and simmer 2 hrs, or until tender. Check periodically to make sure the liquid doesn’t absorb to early, which will cause beans to stick to pan. Drain and reserve the liquid.
  3. Mash the beans with a potato masher, or food processor. I have used both methods and like the masher better because the beans come out a bit more chunky, which I prefer. Add enough liquid to make a smooth paste.
  4. Heat the oil on med-low in a 2 qt saucepan. Add minced fresh garlic, jalapeno & spices.
  5. Saute for 5 minutes or until garlic starts to brown.
  6. Add the bean paste and stir with the spices. Add soy sauce and salsa, if using, and salt to taste!

Tear up some lettuce (not that water stuff they call iceberg), dice some tomatoes, shred some fresh cheese(saves money and tastes better!), pull out some salsa and sour cream, and eat until you can’t move!
Also, nothing beats the flavor of homemade flour tortillas.  I have only made them once, but hope to do it again in the future.  Be careful buying store-bought, though, they can be filled with crap!  I found some that I love from LaTortilla Factory.  They are the closest to homemade I have found and my family really loves them!  I prefer to make soft tacos because they are usually more healthy for the everyone and they like them better anyway.
Now, spoon some refried beans onto your tortilla, add some lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese with a little side of spanish rice and a dollup of sour cream and let the yum fest begin!
Extra money saving tip: buy your beans, rice, herbs, and spices in the bulk bins at your local grocery or health food store. It is so inexpensive this way, plus you can get as little or lot as you want! Enjoy!

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