5 Ways To Jazz Up Your Boring Baked Beans
The Debrief: Just because you’re skint post-holiday doesn’t mean you can’t eat like a king
It was all well and good last week, hopping from Greek island to Greek island, cocktail in hand and single-handedly bailing out the Hellenic economy. Fast forward to today: your overdraft is obscene, you owe your mate €300 for some crap excursion and your card’s just been declined in Pret. For a goddamn coffee. Less Zakynthos, more ZaSKINTos – see what I did there?
Well, the powers that be have decreed that July is National Baked Bean Month (I didn’t know it was A Thing either), and I suggest that we all partake. Everyone’s favourite student-friendly legumes are not just cheap, convenient and idiot-proof, they’re also actually good for you. Baked beans are full of protein, fibre, calcium and potassium whilst being low fat and are even one of your five-a-day. If we’re eating them until pay day, though, it would be nice to have a bit of variation. Here’s five ways to transform them into something exciting:
This recipe comes courtesy of my friend Amrita, whose family runs an Indian restaurant. From now on it’s the only way I’ll ever be eating baked beans, just so you know. Finely slice some hot green chilli and onion then fry them off in a bit of coconut oil, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp coriander. Add the beans. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt and some lime with your usual toast (PS. If you spread your toast with coconut oil instead of butter it’s increds).
Huevos Baked Beanos
Yes, this is indeed a bastardised version of that most excellent of brunch dishes, Huevos Rancheros. Who says you can’t do it with beans, though? Fry some chunks of chorizo with some extra paprika and some sliced peppers. Once there’s some colour on them, pour in your beans. Make a well in the centre and crack an egg in, then leave the egg to poach in the tasty Spanish juices for about five minutes. This one is so hearty and protein rich you almost don’t need the toast with it. If you fancy it, though, why not rub some olive oil, tomato and garlic over the bread to make a kind of Pa Am Boli (fancy Majorcan snack a bit like bruschetta)?
The Greeks have almost got their own jazzy baked beans recipe nailed with the traditional dish Gigantes Plaki, but mine’s quicker and just as satisfying. Saute garlic (use plenty) in the most decent olive oil your purse-strings will allow, then chuck in a handful of fresh dill. Don’t even think about using the dried stuff. Stir some feta cheese in until melted and serve over toast drizzled with olive oil. Treat yourself and crumble more feta over the top if you’re feeling flash. All you need is a final squeeze of lemon and if you close your eyes you’re straight back in the taverna.
Boston BBQ Beans
Weirdly, this is what canned beans are based on. The real colonial-times deal of rich, slowly simmered beans is nothing like the mass-produced orange counterpart we’re so familiar with, but this recipe goes some way to bridging the gap. If you have time, leave this one to simmer away for as long as possible, but it still works as a speedy supper if not. A generous helping of diced pancetta needs to be cooked down gently with 1 tbsp of mustard, lots of Worcestershire sauce, 30ml white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp tomato puree, 1 tbsp black treacle and a pinch of sugar. Once it smells convincing, stir in the beans and serve with hot buttered toast.
I challenge anyone not to enjoy this dish, which combines melted cheese (GOOD), chilli (GOOD), beans (GOOD) and avocado (V V V GOOD) to make an absolute brunch/lunch/dinner winner. Start by making normal cheese on toast with whatever you’ve got in the fridge – I used Gruyere for its supreme melting abilities. Then, heat your beans in a pan and squeeze in about a third of Covent Garden’s genius new Mexican Souper Booster tube. If you want more cumin (for earthiness) or chilli, add them in. Serve atop the toast, scattering sliced red onion and avocado as you go, and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime.
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