Baked beans

The original baked beans

Conventional tinned baked beans are widely considered a cheap, quick, easy meal but I rarely hear them described as delicious. And I don’t think many people consider them to be particularly nutritious. These baked beans are different! Packed full of flavour and with plenty of vegetables, they make a hearty, filling meal and, similar to their conventional cousins, they can be cheap, quick and easy to make. Perfect at this time of year too when so many of the ingredients are in season.

2 onions – cut in half
2 carrots – cut in half
1 leek – cut in big chunks
2 bay leaves
1 tsp chilli flakes
200g dried haricot beans (available in store)
3 tbsp mustard
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (can use a vegan one)
½ tin of tomatoes

Many of us are put off using dried beans but I tell you it is so worth it, and works perfectly for this meal, particularly if you have a slow cooker.

Cook the haricot beans on a low heat in the slow cooker with plenty of water for 8 hours (I put them on when I leave for work and they are ready when I get back).

Leave enough water in the slow cooker to cover the vegetables (around 1cm depth above the beans). If you leave too much water in, your sauce will be too watery, but you need enough liquid to keep the vegetables covered.

Add the rest of the ingredients except for the tinned tomatoes to the slow cooker and cook for another 1-2 hours.

Scoop out the vegetables and blitz with the tinned tomatoes until you have a smooth sauce. Return to the beans and stir together.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

And there you have homemade baked beans. I make batches and put them in the fridge for when I need a quick, tasty meal. They can also be frozen but I always eat them too quickly. Try them on toast or with a hunk of delicious sour dough.

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