Refried beans from a can, especially vegetarian refried beans from a can, are just yuck. I guess when I first started eating them in college I thought they were amazing. But as my tongue gets older (because the rest of me is staying 22 forever...except my brain, that's getting older too) I've lost my taste for the refried beans in a can. And for good reason, home cooked refried beans are way better and they're relatively easy to make. It's not as easy as opening a can I suppose but probably much better for you what with the BPA in the lining of most cans.
The traditional method would be to use lard or bacon fat, but I think this version tastes just as good if not better than any authentic lardy version I've ever tried. Anyways, this is the way I like them but you could take the technique and put in any flavorings you want.
1 lb. pinto beans, sorted rinsed and soaked for 4-8 hours depending on cooking method to be used
6 large cloves of garlic, pressed not minced
1 small white onion, finely diced
5 jalapenos, finely diced
2 Tbsp. chile powder
1 Tbsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. black pepper
1) Cook the beans in a pressure cooker with 4 bay leaves or in a large stock pot according to package directions. I use a pressure cooker and I soak the beans for about 4 hours first and then cook them on high pressure for 15-17 minutes and use the quick release method. If you're cooking them in a pot you will want to soak them for about 8 hours.
2) When the beans are tender drain the liquid reserving about 1 cup of the bean liquid. Place the beans and about 1/2 c. of the liquid in a food processor fitted with the S-blade and begin to process, adding more liquid a little at a time until they reach a creamy consistency and are fully pureed. Set aside. If you don't have a big, fancy food processor just go at them really good with a potato masher or maybe try an immersion blender.
3) In a large skillet, preferably cast iron, heat the oil over medium heat and add the garlic. Let the garlic saute & infuse the oil for about 30-40 seconds as you stir it around and then add the onions and jalapenos and saute until just tender, about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
4) Add the spices to the vegetables and toss to coat. Then, using a rubber spatula, scrape all of the pureed beans into the skillet and fold the mixture around the pan until fully mixed together with the onions and peppers and of a uniform color from the spices. Continue to fold the mixture over in the pan and simmer for about 5 more minutes and then transfer immediately to a glass container or they will get crusty in the pan.
I serve these on corn tortillas with guacamole and pico de gallo..
This makes about 7 cups of refried beans.