Baked Beans & I have a special relationship. I discovered them when I moved to the UK in 2004. Maybe it was the fact that they looked so much like ‘Rajma’ (Red kidney beans), which is such a staple in most North Indian homes, or maybe it was the fact that I was all alone and working non stop which made me look for some sort of relief & Baked Beans from the can somehow just fit that bill.
Every Sunday morning, after a grueling night shift at the local call center, I would walk to the local Tesco store & order the ‘Big Breakfast.’ In those days, when life was slow, there was no reason to hurry, no Facebook, no Instagram, it was just me and my books.
I had also discovered a lot of women authors like Val McDermid, Marian Keyes, Sue Grafton, Patricia Cornwell, and P D James and had fallen in love with their stories. So armed with a few books, and an appetite, the sleep-deprived me would indulge. The breakfast consisted of Bacon, Hash brown, Baked beans from a can, Sausages, and toasted bread with butter with a cup of tea. But what I looked forward was the Beans. I would always go on and order an extra helping because there is something sinfully delicious about a toasted piece of buttered bread slathered with baked beans, with a crispy hash brown and bacon on the side.
I would then go on to buy my weekly supply of ready to eat meals & a few cans of beans to microwave and eat at will. Of course, now, I wonder how I used to be so skinny after having that much sugar and salt in a single serving. But, it in those lonely days and cold winter nights, it became an integral part of my life and one that got me through, and I went through numerous cans utterly free of any guilt.
Nowadays, I make my version of Baked beans at home with some Mushrooms or Cheese for a fancy twist. While what I make is delicious and nourishing, I somehow can’t help but remember that sinful blue can of Beans that gave me comfort when I needed it the most.
Fancy Baked Beans
Recipe – Cooking time 30 minutes, serves 3 – 4 portions
1 can of organic butter or cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 small onion finely chopped
3 juicy ripe tomatoes chopped
A few cubes of Feta/Mozzarella or Bocconcini cheese
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp paprika powder
Olive oil to cook and for garnishing
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
Freshly chopped parsley or basil
1 tbsp of Baba Ganoush or Labneh for that extra oomph
Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan and add garlic and saute on a low flame for 10 seconds. Add the chopped onion and saute till translucent. Add the Mushrooms & cook till done.
Add the tomatoes and cook till mushy. Now add the Baked beans, salt, pepper, paprika powder, and mix well. Transfer the beans to an ovenproof dish and top it up with the baba ganoush or labneh, the cheese you would like to add, and drizzle some olive oil on top.
Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes, sprinkle the parsley or basil on top and serve with crusty sourdough bread.
You can crack an egg on top before baking the beans for a twist.
Always read the label of the can before you buy it, I always look for one that has low sodium
The beans can be made in advance and refrigerated. Top them up with the cheese and whatever else you want to add and bake just before eating.
If you don’t have mushrooms, you can also use chopped zucchini/Capsicum or skip the veggies all together.