I recently returned from a national dietitian conference in Melbourne and had a fantastic time soaking up all the workshops and latest research in nutrition. I spent way too much outlet shopping and a visit to Haigh’s chocolates (takes me back to my hometown of Adelaide) was a must. One of the highlights of course for a foodie was the sampling of the many culinary delights Melbourne has to offer. A breakfast at a little café on South Wharf has inspired me to come up with my own version of baked beans. So delicious (and freezable!), I don’t think I can go back to the old Heinz tin stuff again! And now that winter has hit, there is nothing like a warm, hearty meal and this makes the perfect brunch. The smokey flavour that the paprika gives this dish is the star.
Baked beans is not only an easy meal popular with families, it is packs a nutritious punch! Borlotti beans have a creamy smooth texture which is ideally suited for this recipe. They are high in protein, thiamin, magnesium, iron, calcium, antioxidants, have heart-healthy fats, and are low in sodium and low GI. They are also high in dietary fibre which is great news for intestinal health and those wanting to control their weight. You can make this dish using dried beans but it adds many more hours to the preparation and I found the dish worked well using tinned.
I recommend using vine-ripened tomatoes as the more ripe the tomato, the more concentrated the nutrients. The beautiful bright red in a ripe tomato comes from lycopene, a carotenoid pigment that is a known antioxidant. If you don’t have the time or inclination to chop up the tomatoes, you can also use a large jar of passata sauce or a 800g tin crushed tomatoes. Just looking at this bowlful of fresh tomatoes just made my mouth water though!
So to start, first sauté onion and garlic with that amazing smokey paprika that sends wafts of deliciousness through your kitchen. Then add the tomatoes, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce if vegan/vegetarian) and tomato paste. Let it all cook down and reduce to form a rich sauce, the base of the best baked beans ever. The beans can be added after 15 minutes if you’re pressed for time (or too hungry!) but the richness gained by reducing and thickening it with an additional 15 minutes is my preference.
Once the drained and rinsed beans and maple syrup (optional) are added, cook for a further 15 minutes and serve with chopped parsley and crusty bread. Yummy!!
The baked beans can be frozen for up to 3 months so it makes a great quick meal when you’re running short of time.
Serving suggestion: as you may have seen in the first pic, I baked 2 eggs with the smokey baked beans. Easy to do – just divide the (heated) baked beans equally among 4-6 ramekins, made an indent, crack an egg or two in there and bake at 180oC/360oF for 10-15 min, depending on how you like your eggs.
Homemade Smokey Baked Beans
An easy healthy and delicious meal - perfect for brunch
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 x 400g tinned borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 kg vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce if vegetarian/vegan)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven or deep fry pan over medium heat.
- Sauté onion for about 3 minutes or until golden.
- Add garlic and smoked paprika, sauté for a further minute, then add the chopped tomatoes, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce/soy sauce and tomato paste, mixing well.
- Heat the tomato mixture until the tomatoes collapse down and thicken, forming a rich sauce – between 15 – 30 minutes according to taste, stirring occasionally.
- Add drained and rinsed beans with maple syrup (optional) and cook for a further 15 minutes.
- Plate up and serve with the chopped parsley and crusty bread.