Vegetarian baked beans ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

22 October 2012

Vegetarian baked beans

homemade vegetarian baked beans

It's raining! Rain in California! Fall is actually here! HOORAY!

This is clearly the best possible time of the year to make a gigantic pan of delicious, hearty, warming goodness. I'm talking about baked beans.

Baked beans are traditionally made with navy beans or similar small white beans, plus onion, bacon, and a molasses-heavy sauce that would probably be excellent on barbecue. (Mental note: make a batch of actual barbecue sauce soon.) But the real essence of baked beans is the bean itself, or maybe the bean plus molasses. So, since our household is half vegetarian, we took out all the meat components and added in some liquid smoke and lemon juice. The result was more than satisfactory.

These take hours upon hours to cook, so they are excellent to make on a grey weekend when all you want to do is putter around the house. Nothing is better than a bubbling pot when it's cold and damp out, right? Soak the beans the night before, boil them in the morning, bake them right after lunch, and you should be all set by dinnertime. Bonus: delicious baked bean fumes delicately wafting through the house all day!

Vegetarian baked beans
Based on Boston Baked Beans

2 cups dry white beans
bay leaf
an onion
3 tbsp molasses
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp mustard powder
several good shakes of liquid smoke
juice of 1/2 lemon
butter/olive oil

Start the day before you want to eat by sorting and soaking about two cups of dry white beans. Leave them overnight, loosely covered. The next day, change out the water and simmer the beans with a bay leaf until tender. Depending on the age of your beans, this can take up to two hours. When done, drain your beans, reserving the broth. You can also cook your beans in advance and refrigerate them, or substitute canned beans.

When you're ready to make the beans, preheat your oven to 325F/165C.

Break out a dutch oven or other large, deep, oven-safe casserole dish. Chop up a large yellow onion. Fill the dutch oven with alternating layers of beans and onion, ending with beans.

homemade vegetarian baked beans

Next, make the sauce. In a pan, combine the molasses, ketchup, brown sugar, salt, pepper, mustard, liquid smoke, and lemon juice. Smoke seasoning is really potent, so be careful with it! Add a little at a time, and definitely don't drop the bottle.

Bring the pan of sauce to a boil, stir to dissolve any recalcitrant lumps of sugar, and pour it all over the beans. Then add enough of your bean broth to cover the beans entirely. (Freeze the leftover bean broth and use it in soups later.)

Dot the top of your bean dish with chunks of butter or a scattered drizzle of olive oil. Don't skip this--the fat in the oil or butter is going to carry the flavors of the sauce and onion to make the whole dish meld together. It's taking the place of the bacon fat in the original recipe.

Bake your beans, covered, for about two hours. Then take off the lid, check your liquid level, and continue to cook for another hour or two, or until the beans are amazing and delicious. It's done when you think it's done.

Hooray! Baked beans!

We had our baked beans over bowls of rice, but I would definitely be up for a biscuit and gravy or cornbread application. Hearty greens, either steamed or sauteed, would be perfect on the side.

What dishes do you love to make when it's dank and rainy out?


kristina said...

I look forward to making these - my favorite way to eat baked beans is with couscous!

Generally when it is gloomy out I bake, usually something sweet or involving cheese :)

Caz said...

I love baked beans, great on toast or a baked potato. These look so comforting, perfect for rainy days :)

Stacy G. said...

This looks delicious!

noelle said...

I too was so excited when it (omg) rained here in southern CA. I made soup + bread, but will remember these baked beans next time.

Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez said...

I love baked beans...of any sort! And we have the perfect rainy dreary weather for them today - if only I could reach into the screen.

Joanne said...

Haha I'm so glad fall has finally hit for you guys! These beans sound like a perfectly delicious way to celebrate!

Andy said...

I feel warmer just looking at those beans. Its freezing up here in canada...

Jessie @ The Happiness in Health said...

LOVE baked beans for a cold day -- and your recipe looks delicious! :)

everydaymaven said...

My husband loves baked beans like crazy. He likes to cut up hot dogs and just eat the bowl of beans with hot dog chunks lol.These look great!

Sippity Sup said...

When did you write this? I think the rain missed us. But my pineapple guavas always disappear thanks to the squirrels. Notice how expertly I weaved two posts into one comment. That's good writing, huh? GREG

Pam said...

Excellent recipe! It's pretty much the way I make them, minus the liquid smoke. So will try that the next time!

oliepants said...

I have been looking for a vegetarian version of these forever. All the ones I've seen have bacon in them - so thank you thank you. :) Bookmarked and already making a grocery list.

erin @ yummy supper said...

Eileen, So fun to make your own Boston Baked Beans! Molassesy baed beans always bring back good childhood memories of camping.
When the weather gets cool and wet we love to make big stews and plenty of pots of heart beans.
I'll add your recipe to the list!