Lilly Higgins: Keep your finger on the pulse with these delicious black bean tostadas

Spend Less, Eat Well: Beans are an invaluable ingredient — they can be used for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Beans are very affordable and a huge range is readily available. I regularly buy tinned, cooked beans and find them invaluable to have in the cupboard, but I also batch cook dried beans in my slow cooker, and the price plummets.

Soak the beans in plenty of water overnight then drain and rinse the next day. Tip them into a slow cooker, top with water and add a bay leaf or your herbs of choice. Pop the lid on and leave to simmer on high till cooked through. The time will depend on the model of slow cooker and on the type and age of the bean. I sometimes add a halved onion or a few cloves of garlic.

When you cook beans from scratch like this, you soon discover that the cooking water forms a delicious broth that’s so warming and nourishing. It’s almost like bean stock, so try and use it to make black bean soup or blitz it with your refried beans, like I do here. You can also just season it with salt and enjoy it as a simple soup.

Tostadas are always such a great sharing option as you can serve a few bowls with all of the delicious components in the centre of the table. I’m also often asked for single serve recipes, but with a dish like this you can make a batch of refried beans and enjoy them over a few days for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They can go in a breakfast burrito, over nachos with the pico de Gallo, or as a rice bowl with cheese, guacamole and salsa.


Recipe: Black bean tostadas with charred corn

Lilly’s Kitchen Tips

If you’re a fan of Mexican food then Lily Ramires Foran’s lovely little book Tacos should be on your list.

Buy dried beans and cook them in a slow cooker. They’re much cheaper and the slow cooker uses less electricity than having a pot on the hob for hours.

Don’t add salt till the beans are fully cooked as its causes them to toughen up