I have always loved baked beans, and find them to be great comfort food. They’re great with toast, cheese, eggs, even just by themselves in a bowl. But when I was 12, my English tutor told me that if I knew what went into baked beans, or how a factory producing baked beans looked like, I would never want to eat them again.
Ah, yes. He scared me. The result of his scaring: I stopped eating baked beans until I came to Britain, where the best of their food culture is, essentially, breakfast food: toast, eggs, beans, and tea. Maybe puddings, too- I just can’t resist sticky toffee pudding… Unfortunately for me, the other areas the Brits excel in, in terms of food, are all meat dishes: haggis, neeps, and tatties. Toad in a hole. Beef olives. Roast. Meat pies. As a vegetarian, I can’t say I’m too happy with that. Even though I am back to eating tinned baked beans, I am still somewhat wary of them. When I realized that I had a bag of dried butter beans, I had a lightbulb moment: baked beans!
I decided to make a Greek version: gigantes plaki. And oh boy, are they good!
3 cups butter beans (if they’re dried, I recommend soaking them overnight)
1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon of mustard
2 tablespoons tomato paste (a little extra of both mustard and tomato paste doesn’t hurt!)
5-6 large tomatoes
parsley (if you’d like. I didn’t have any.)
salt and pepper
After soaking your beans, place them in a saucepan and bring them to a boil. Let them cook until they’re tender, somewhat soft. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
While your beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in a frying pan or a saucepan. I prefer a saucepan, or a small pot, because that allows you to stir. Caramelize the onions, and add the garlic. Add the mustard and tomato paste. Stir it in and allow the onion and garlic to absorb the sauces, before adding the tomatoes.
Add the beans in, and mix well. Salt and pepper as you’d like. Transfer the food into an ovenproof dish, and let it bake for around 45 minutes. And there you have it: vegan, healthy baked beans!
inspired by this recipe