When I have a day off and nothing planned I almost always seize the opportunity to make something tasty that takes just a little extra time.  Making things from scratch isn't always realistic in our busy, day-to-day lives but it's always well worth the effort.  So today I made fresh, whole-wheat pizza dough and slow-cooked and refried beans. 

You don't have to take the time to make pizza dough from scratch (although if you have a standing mixer it's a snap to put together) but I would highly recommend making your own refried beans as opposed to using the canned ones.  Not only is the flavor and texture infinitely better but most of the time that it takes to make them is inactive, anyway.  I like to freshen up homemade pizza by topping it with a light, chopped salad.  In this case, using the bright cilantro, crisp and flavorful romaine lettuce and the spicy, crunchy radishes we received from our Grant Family Farms CSA as well as some grilled peppers.  The dressing is as simple as can be - just an avocado blended with lime juice and vinegar. 

If you are serving a crowd, this recipe can easily be doubled so you can make two pizzas.  You are already making enough beans and pizza dough (most pizza dough recipes yield enough for two pizzas) and even dressing.  Just double the amount of lettuce, radishes and peppers you use and you've got enough food for about 6-8 people.  If you want to make this vegetarian, simply replace the bacon fat with more canola oil.  I, however, couldn't resist using the bacon fat!  It adds a rich and homey flavor to the beans and provides a hearty base for this wholesome and tasty dish.

Refried Bean Pizza with Romaine, Radish and Pepper Salad 
with Avocado Vinaigrette
serves 4

Refried Beans:
1 lb. dried pintos or black beans
vegetable bouillion
1 T bacon fat
1 T canola oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp mexican oregano
pinch of cayenne
pinch of cinnamon
salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 batch fresh pizza dough (or one large store-bought pizza crust)
olive oil, for brushing
2 cups refried beans
1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled

1/2 head romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
1 bunch breakfast radishes (about 8-10 very small radishes), thinly sliced
1 red pepper, grilled and chopped
1 green pepper, grilled and chopped
1 avocado
juice of 4-6 limes
2-3 T champagne vinegar (or other white vinegar)
salt and pepper, to taste

Cover beans with several inches of water in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Add enough bouillion to flavor the water and stir to combine.  Reduce heat to low, cover and allow beans to simmer until very tender and water is thickened, about 2 hours.

Once beans are tender, heat oils in a large pan over medium-high.  Add diced onions and cook until slightly browned, about 6 minutes.  Using a large slotted spoon, add about 1 cup of beans.  Fry until a light film coats the bottom of the pan, then add another cup of beans.  Continue to fry in batches until all the beans have been added (adding a little more canola oil, if necessary), then add enough of the bean broth to barely cover the beans.  Add remaining ingredients and reduce heat to medium-low and mash and stir the beans with a flat-ended wooden spoon until they reach a creamier consistency, about 10 more minutes (if beans get too dry, just add more bean broth until it reaches desired consistency.

Place a baking stone, if using, into the oven and heat to 500 degrees.  Meanwhile, roll out your fresh pizza dough on a lightly floured surface until crust is about 1/4-inch thick.  Slide dough onto a large, lightly-floured cutting board.  Brush lightly with olive oil then spread on the beans in an even layer.  Top with queso fresco.  Slide pizza from the cutting board onto the baking stone in the oven and cook until crust is crisp and lightly browned, about 7-10 minutes.  Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes, then slice.

Meanwhile, assemble your salad.  In a large bowl, combine romaine, radishes and peppers.  In a blender, combine the avocado with lime juice and blend.  Add just enough vinegar to loosen the dressing (it will be very thick).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Toss salad with about 3 T of the dressing.  Top pizza slices with a handful of salad and serve immediately. 

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