I grew up eating baked beans – the canned variety – on toast. It was one of the early convenience foods and quick to put on the table for tea. Everyone ate beans, as they were an affordable and fast way to fill us up. We used to charge around the school playground chanting ‘beans beans are good for your heart, the more you eat the more you fart’ then fall in a giggling heap.
Fart factor aside, beans are a great source of plant-based protein and dietary fibre. They are a slow releasing energy food with a low glycemic index, which means we feel full for longer. This is good news for maintaining a healthy body weight. Beans are also good for our heart – hence the rhyme. Studies have proven that people that eat beans are less likely to die of coronary heart disease
I still enjoy eating baked beans and am known to open a can for a large breakfast but I am more likely to cook my own for dinner. There’s nothing wrong with canned baked beans in moderation but they do contain a surprising amount of sugar and salt.
This recipe is a modern take on baked beans, sneaking in ingredients from across the globe to make an affordable, tasty and healthy pot of food. I soak my own beans then cook the beans in the sauce but it is possible to save time by cracking open a can of haricot or cannellini beans.
Soaking beans overnight is an important step when using dried legumes making them more digestible and reducing the wind factor.
A little old lady who was selling beans in Barcelona instructed us to soak the beans overnight, discard the soaking water then to drop the beans into boiling water to cook. This hot tip prevents the beans from splitting. There is no definitive time for cooking the beans as so much depends on how long ago the beans were dried. The best advice is to start with the minimum cooking time, make sure the beans don’t dry out and keep checking.
These beans are delicious solo, on toast or piled into a jacket roasted potato.
250g cannellini beans or 2 cans cannellini or haricot beans
2tbs olive oil
1 onion – peeled and finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
1 thumb fresh ginger
1 bay leaf
1 can tomatoes – chopped
2tbs tomato puree
1tbs cider vinegar
1tbs white miso (optional)
1 dsp Colemans mustard powder
1 tbs tamari or soya sauce
1 dried chipotle or 1tsp smoked paprika
Soak the cannellini overnight in plenty of cold water.
The next day drain the beans.
Cover the dried chipotle with warm water from the tap and leave aside.
Before using remove most of the seeds unless you want to blow your head off
Heat a large pot of boiling water, add the beans then cook a medium-low heat, for roughly one hour, Keep them gently rolling. Check after 40 minutes, as you never know, they might be ready. Skip this part if you are using pre-cooked cans of beans.
Whilst the beans are cooking prepare the sauce.
Heat a large saucepan then add the olive oil and finely chopped onion. Cook gently, without browning for a few minutes then stir in the ginger and garlic. Cook for few minutes longer then add the chopped tomatoes, miso, mustard, bay leaves, molasses, cider vinegar, tomato puree, tamari and chopped deseeded chipotle or smoked paprika. Add a few spoonfuls of the water the beans are cooking in or water from the tap
Stir well then leave simmering whilst the beans cook. Don’t let the sauce dry out – add more liquid if needed. Drain the beans when they are cooked. Reserve the cooking liquid. Add about 500mls bean cooking water and the beans to the sauce. The beans should be swimming in the sauce to begin with and this will reduce.
When everything is bubbling away turn the heat to simmer and cover with a lid.
Cook the beans for roughly an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Add a little more liquid if they are drying out.
I didn’t need to add any salt, as the tamari and miso are both salty. Taste the beans and decide for yourself.
Potatoes in their Jackets
1-2 large potatoes each – floury are best
Wash the potatoes and stab them a couple of times with a large fork.
Drizzle a little olive oil over and sprinkle with a little salt. Rub over each potato so they are evenly dressed – they shouldn’t be sitting in a puddle.
Bake on a tray in the oven for roughly one hour
Real Slow Food!