by Kimberley Doerksen
Beans on toast is a staple in my comfort food diet. Perhaps it’s from growing up with a Scottish mother who has made me partial to this simple meal. Throw a handful of grated cheese on top, with a sprinkling of black pepper and any cold winter night is instantly better with this warm hug of a meal.
Now one of the only downsides to baked beans is that they often have a ridiculously high sugar content. Why must baked beans have 10 g of sugar per serving? It doesn’t make any sense. So, like any normal person would do, I sought out a homemade version to try. The Canadian Living Vegetarian Cookbook is one of my go-to’s. Everything I’ve made from that book has been fantastic. There are times that I’ll still make substitutions to the recipes, but more often than not, the ingredients are normal, inexpensive and healthy. A winning combination in my opinion.
While this recipe calls for some sweetness from maple syrup and molasses, the amount used in the entire recipe isn’t enough to make me concerned about the excess sugar. Instead, it provides a wonderful hint of sweetness that pairs beautifully with the spices and acidity from the tomatoes. Toast some of your favourite bread, grate some sharp old cheddar and this becomes the perfect winter meal.
Maple Baked Beans (Makes about 8 cups)
3 cups dried navy beans (or white beans)
2 tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dry mustard
2 tsp chili powder
½ tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper
2 cups crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp molasses
1 ½ cups bean cooking liquid, vegetable broth or water
1. Rinse and drain beans, then place in a pot and cover with water about two inches above the beans.
2. Bring to a boil, and boil the beans for one minute.
3. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for one hour. Drain.
4. In a saucepan, cover the drained beans again with water about inches above the beans. You will need a big pot for this!
5. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 40 minutes. Drain beans and reserve the cooking liquid (unless using vegetable stock/water).
6. In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and fry the onion, apple, garlic, dry mustard, chili powder, salt and cayenne together. Cook for about eight minutes until the onion has softened.
7. Stir in the tomatoes, cider vinegar, maple syrup and molasses. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and scrape in to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
8. Preheat the oven to 300 F.
9. Combine the beans and sauce, then place into a large casserole dish (16L). Bake, covered in the oven for two hours. Then uncovered for about one hour until thickened.