Meatless

Refried beans: a great filling for vegetarian spring rolls

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Last Sunday, we were at the mall to check our prices for Sam’s rollerblades, it was dinner time, we were hungry and the first restaurant I saw that wasn’t crowded was Bacolod Chicken Inasal. We had been there before, we liked the food so we went in thinking there would be at least one vegetable dish that Sam could eat. Turned out that dining out is not easy for vegetarians in Metro Manila. Although there are a lot of vegetable dishes in restaurants, most are served with small pieces of meat or seafood. And that is true with Bacolod Chicken Inasal. Sam ordered bangus (milkfish) spring rolls instead of the vegetable dishes that came with pork or chicken. She could only eat two pieces of spring rolls. After that, she just poured the sauce over her rice and contented herself with eating that.

Watching her eat… it tore my heart. And I told her that the following weekend, I would cook great vegetarian food for her, that I’d research some more for new and creative ways to prepare vegetarian dishes. Then, she made a suggestion that would have put any research to shame. She mentioned the mashed potatoes and pesto spring rolls before and she said substitute mashed beans for the potatoes, add peppers and other vegetables for a contrast in texture, and then stir in cheese. Genius, isn’t she?

It is now a weekend later and I did exactly as she suggested. But because we have already consumed the beans I had pressure-cooked last week, I decided to use refried beans.

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I scooped out half of the contents of a can of refried beans into a bowl, added chopped bell pepper, onion and garlic, threw in some scallions and then a generous amount of cheese cut into small cubes. I sprinkled in a bit of salt and pepper, stirred everything together and used the mixture as spring roll filling. The spring rolls were really good. REALLY GOOD.

What can make them better? Chilies. I still have the other half of the refried beans in a container in the fridge. Next time, I’ll add chopped finger chilies to the filling. That should transform the spring rolls from good to superb.

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