You can take Dave out of Britain, but you can’t take the Britain out of Dave. Various people have said that to me over the years I’ve lived in Germany, and after a good giggle and an accepting nod of the head I forget about it again and move on. But as time has gone by I’ve realised how true it really is. There aren’t many foods more quintessentially British than baked beans, and it’s one that’s dear to me.
Loved by many, hated by others, and served in cheap hotels as part of an ‘English Breakfast’ the world over, baked beans are one of Britain’s most well known food exports – for better or for worse (probably worse if you really think that’s the limit of our culinary skills). They’re pretty easy to get hold of in most supermarkets these days, a good thing as it means I don’t have to use my valuable luggage allowance to bring them over here in my suitcase. No, that space is reserved for Marmite now.
BUT, it’s not just Brits who love baked beans either. I’ve heard from many who love them – but also from many who don’t – and I always ask why. The answer is usually something like ‘because they’re bland and watery’. WHAT?? Baked beans should be thick and full flavoured with a moreish tang – and a perfect accompaniment to many staples – my favourite being potato.
It’s true, a couple of famous brands stand head and shoulders above the rest of the baked bean world. I’ve had the misfortune of trying ‘cheap’ beans and can attest to their vileness – no wonder so much of the world thinks British food is crap!
But we’re here to change that – and to show you how easy it is to make your own. The beans themselves are actually really, really nutritious (it’s hard to think why beans should be kept out of any diet (allergies aside), and when done right – taste great!
Vegetarian Baked Beans – Health Benefits
Using simple white beans, like navy beans, means that you can create a dish that’s exceptionally high in both protein and fiber, as well as folate and magnesium. Yes, I know I bang on a about protein a lot (that’s because it’s important and vegetarians get asked questions like ‘but where do you get your protein?’ Or ‘why aren’t you dead yet?’ all the time, so I feel a constant need to defend myself. But today I’d like to talk about fiber, and how we don’t get enough, and what’s so great about it when we do get enough.
Yep, it stops your blood sugar level spiking too much, and yep it’s also great for your digestive system, but I’m going for a more obvious and external benefit here – the help with weight loss. What I’ve found recently that is by eating lots of fiber high content like beans (and chickpeas too) is that they’ll keep me feeling full for ages. This is turn stops me craving snacks and sweet foods – by default it helps me keep the weight down.
I don’t win anything by convincing you to eat more beans – but they just seem to be so damn good for you it would be silly to look the other way. The final statistic that convinced me of the wonders of beans was the one mentioned here by WHFoods – that research shows diets high in legumes can reduce the risk of heart attacks by up to 82%. 82%! That’s ridiculous. It’s harder to think of a reason not to eat them 😉
Vegetarian Baked Beans
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed (1 can = ca. 400g with liquid)
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp sage
- ½ cup crushed tomatoes (eg. passata)
- 1-2 tsp Worcester sauce (or 2 tsp white wine vinegar and 1 tsp maple syrup for every 2 tsp Worcester sauce; important: get an anchovy free Worcester sauce!)
- ½ tsp Tabasco sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- Dice the onion and garlic, then fry both in olive oil.
- Drain and rinse the can of white beans.
- As soon as the onion starts to turn translucent add the beans.
- Now add the crushed tomatoes, herbs, worcester sauce and tabasco sauce.
Optional: slowly add the corn starch while gently stirring the mix.
- Let it simmer for about 10 minutes and give it a taste test.
- Finish off with salt and pepper, if needed.
- BAM! Done. You just decoded Heinz’ Baked Beans recipe 😉
In case you're wondering how to prep the tomato and bread:
In a pan on medium heat add 1 tbsp of olive oil and chuck in both, bread and tomatoes. Make sure to flip the bread after a couple of minutes. Season with a little salt. Done!