Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Maple Baked Beans

I consider baked beans to be a staple. They taste good. They're packed with fiber, protein and iron. Baked beans are a crowd pleasing dish. But there's a reason Bush wants to keep his maple baked beans recipe a secret. Don't look at the ingredients! Eek. Seriously scary. 

Good thing there's a solution. Make your own!

Maple Baked Beans

1 medium onion
1 cup red bell pepper
6 garlic cloves
½ tablespoon olive oil
¾ cup tomato sauce (I use homemade, but any no-salt version will do!)
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
15 oz can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Dice onion, pepper and garlic. Saute in a large pan with olive oil over medium- high heat for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Reduce heat to low.
  3. In a small bowl, mix tomato sauce, maple syrup, cider vinegar, honey and Dijon. Stir into pan.
  4. Rinse and drain the beans then add them to the mixture.
  5. Stir in paprika, salt and pepper.
  6. Pour mixture into a greased casserole dish and cover with aluminum foil.
  7. Bake at 325F, covered, for 30 minutes. Then uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes. 
(recipe adapted from Cooking Light)

The three different types of beans give a really interesting texture. I love it, but if you think you might feel differently just use three cans of the same type of bean. Any beans will work, the above are just a suggestion. I used black-eyed peas in place of Great Northern beans this time. The chickpeas are my favorite though, so if you're good with the mixed bean texture definitely keep those in. This recipe also freezes and reheats well.

The original recipe has bacon in it, and if you have some nitrate-free bacon on hand just dice it up and cook it in a pan, then remove bacon with a slotted spoon and use the drippings to cook the onions (add the bacon back in with the beans). I've made it both ways and the bacon is definitely good, but not a must-have. Alternately, you could make this dish vegan. Just replace the honey with an extra tablespoon of maple syrup and the Dijon with an additional tablespoon of tomato sauce.

I cook with beans a few times a week and split between dried beans and canned beans about 50/50. Dried beans require some extra planning and I usually use them if I'm cooking in my slow-cooker. I'm trying to work towards a 70/30 on the dried/can ratio though (or better!). Always drain your beans and rinse them well- it helps to remove most of the sodium used in packaging (although I do buy no-salt beans) and some of the BPA.

We had these beans with some Cranberry Buffalo Sausage from Cibola Farms cooked with peppers and onions. The sausages are amazing and you can read about Cibola Farm's humane handling practices on their website. The ingredients are: Buffalo, pork, cranberries, wine, salt, shallots, sugar, sage, basil, thyme, cayenne, nutmeg and caraway. The sugar is a compromise, but we don't have these too often so I'm okay with it. We really love Cibola Farms and eat bison meat a few times a month. 


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