Just chuck 'em in and make 'em savory! Beans, beans . . . they really ARE good for your heart (among other things), and the more you eat . . . well – if you prepare them mindfully, get used to digesting them, or even try an enzyme supplement, you can reduce the windspeed!
I can eat beans just cooked plain because – beans! I LOVE 'em. But, it's nice to put some flavour on them now and again, so today I made this version of a baked bean dish with my 'chuck 'em in' method. One baking dish and a few easily-sourced ingredients. My mission – to produce a nice, tasty main (for lunch, with a slice of grainy bread) or supper side that will at least be consumed, perhaps enjoyed, if not absolutely adored – by the recipients to whom I am promoting this increase in bean consumption.
Here's how I did it and ideas (in here) for options. This batch will make about six lunch servings. Just leave out anything that doesn't appeal to you or your family members – it's a very inexact science and no recipe required! Set your baking dish on the counter. Dice up two red PEPPERS (or green) and – chuck 'em in! Dice half a medium red ONION – about 1/2 cup (any kind of onion, leeks or shallots) and – chuck 'em in! Chop TOMATOES scrounged from the last of the garden offerings – about two cups – roma and yellow cherries (or any tomato) and – chuck 'em in! Dice CELERY from the market that even had a few wilted leaves (organic celery is best – it's a very high-chemical, standard veg) – about half cup (or more if you are like me and adore celery), and – chuck 'em in!
Admire the beauteous colour of your concoction thus far, then add the BEANS, which I had already soaked overnight and cooked to almost done – about 2 cups. Mine are called 'Cranberry Heritage' and they are so adorable! (I have no idea which variety of beans are used for traditional baked bean dishes, but I'm thinking – just get some beans in there that you think you will like – they are all good) – chuck 'em in!
The five seasonings (one more than Vivaldi's – ha!). This is SO EASY. At this point, this could be turned into a Moroccan dish or an Italian, Spanish or Greek dish, (everyone has beans!) but I wanted to do an autumnal kind more in keeping with our local fare. I finally added: SALT, PEPPER, local summer savory (thyme, parsley, oregano – all kinds of SAVOURY HERBS would work), about 1/4 cup of red wine VINEGAR (real red wine, apple cider vinegar, white or any vinegar would work) and 1/4 cup of MAPLE SYRUP (could use sugar or blackstrap mollasses) – chuck 'em in! That's the sweet/sour combo that will kick up the great flavour. Stir to blend the ingredients and once again, admire the stunning array of colour and the multitudinous minerals, fibre, lignans, flavonoids, complex carbs, phytosterols and such that are SO beneficial for helping to prevent heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and other important things like that. Google around if you are interested – the benefits of beans are numerous. Adding beans as a side dish to your plate will help to lower the glycemic index of your entire meal. [Note: summer savory, which has a natural affinity for beans and is popular here in Atlantic Canada, is a 'fine herb' in France, a key ingredient in Bulgarian dishes and popular in other cuisines too – who knew?]
After pondering your excellent initiative and how well you are taking care of yourself and your loved ones by preparing such a healthy dish, preheat the oven to 350F (175C), cover the baking dish and – chuck it in! Turn the oven to 275F (135C) and bake for one and a half hours covered and a half hour uncovered or whatever works in your particular oven to get the whole thing smelling and looking good! (I like my beans juicy, but if you prefer your beans with a thicker sauce, stir in a thickener such as flour, arrowroot or corn starch before putting in the oven.)
Here is the best part – first, it will (literally) take LESS TIME to assemble this dish than it took to read this lengthy post! Second, - this dish completely busts the myth that healthy, plant-based meals are more expensive than meat and dairy-based ones. Beans may be THE most plentiful, accessible and varied food on the planet (OK, there is a lot of rice and hundreds of varieties of potatoes, legumes and other grains, but I'm just saying – beans are at the same party as that nutritiously laudable crowd). They are excellent value for the dollar, so beneficial to health, filling in the tummy, great to eat at a campfire (nostalgic for me), a 'protein option' and can be prepared in so many ways. Dried beans are easy to find, to store for long periods of time (good for us bean collectors) and to cook. They really are a magnificent little natural packet of budget-friendly goodness!