Tutu is a dish made in my birth state, Minas Gerais, in Brazil, that consists of mashed beans seasoned with spices and some fat, either of animal or vegetal origin. In the essentials, it is more-or-less the same as the popular Mexican style dish in the US called “refried beans.” Traditionally tutu is served with fried pork skin, braised pork belly or ribs, fried egg, cassava flour, rice and sautéed collard greens. It is a delicious food bomb: you eat it and go directly into a food coma. Next time you visit Minas, make sure to include this on your culinary tour, for it is a local delicacy.
Steven and I used to eat tutu with all the fatty pork all the time, though not since we’ve become pesce-vegetarians. Nevertheless, the other day Steven cooked a large pot of red kidney beans so, feeling inspired, I decided to make some into a delicious vegetarian tutu. Turns out it doesn’t really need all the animal fat to be excellent. Tutu can be served as a side dish to any meal or as party dip. It is nutritious and full of flavor, and, since these are beans, children can have fun making jokes (after all, to English speakers this Portuguese name sounds a lot like “toot-toot”) while the whole family eats healthy.
tutu de feijão or vegetarian refried beans
6 cups cooked red kidney bean plus some of cooking liquid
3 cloves garlic, mashed
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp cumin powder
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
2 whole scallions, chopped
Place beans with some of the liquid in a deep pan. Using a stick blender process until it turns into a thick paste.
Add olive oil to a non-stick skillet, followed by garlic and sauté until aromatic. Next in goes bean paste, salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne pepper. Bring it to a boil, reduce temp to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes to allow time for flavors to blend. Stir every couple of minutes or so to prevent sticking. If excessively wet, cook longer.
Turn oven to broil.
Transfer bean to a heat resistant bowl. Mix cheddar cheese with scallions and scatter mixture over beans. Place bowl in the oven just long enough to melt cheddar. Remove and serve with a side of rice.