I finish work on Friday, and I’m counting down to the hour, if not the minute, the second, the millisecond. Anyone would think I wasn’t coming back again two weeks later – from where I stand, January is a foreign country. And I have now officially eaten my first turkey of the year, in the form of bacon-wrapped turkey escalopes at our annual Christmas lunch in the canteen today, so let the festivities begin! However, exciting as this all may be, a girl can’t eat party food all the time. And what’s less party like, in the nicest sense, than baked beans?
There are three recipes for baked beans in ‘World Vegetarian’: two Greek in origin, and this one, which I like because it has peanut butter in it. Although I think I’ve probably made them all at one time or another, because you can’t go wrong with baked beans. Of course, this is not a substitute for opening a tin of beans for beans on toast (I like the Whole Earth ones for that), it’s an entirely different beast – not to say that you couldn’t pile these on toast. It will take several hours of your time, but it’s not actually very labour intensive, you just have to be around. It will make your kitchen nice and warm for you and you can potter off and do some yoga, or prepare nibbles for people coming over for Christmas drinks, or crack on with that Christmas baking.
Baked beans with Nigerian seasonings Serves 4, with sides
I picked up a handy tip in the section of this book entitled ‘dried beans, dried peas, lentils and nuts’. That is, if you forget to soak your dried beans overnight, you can use the quick-soak method: put the beans in a pan, cover them with cold water (it should be 13cm deep if you want to be precise) and bring to the boil. Boil for two minutes, then turn off the heat and let them sit for at least an hour, or as long as you have. You can then proceed with the recipe.
190g dried cannellini or haricot beans, or any other medium-sized white beans, soaked overnight or using the quick-soak method above
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, halved and finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp curry powder (any one you like)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
1 1/4 tsp salt
Put the soaked beans in a pan with 1 1/2 pints water and bring to the boil. Partly cover, turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are just tender.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a casserole dish – one that can go on the hob and in the oven – over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the curry powder. Now add the tomatoes and simmer for 7-10 minutes. Take off the heat until the beans are ready.
Preheat the oven to 170c.
When the beans are done, remove about 6 tbsp of their cooking liquid and mix it with the peanut butter in a small cup or bowl. Empty this into the casserole with the beans and any remaining cooking liquid. Stir in the salt and lots of black pepper. Bake in the oven for 1 1/2 – 2 hours – the recipe tells you to leave it uncovered, but mine dried out a bit, so bear this in mind depending on how much liquid was left in your beans.
Serve with bread, salads and cheese.
Adapted from ‘Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian’.