What are baked beans?
I love baked beans. Baked beans are one of those foods you get used to eating as a child and it never gets old nor do you ever get too old to eat baked beans. If you live outside the UK (or Australia I have been told) then its likely you have not tried baked beans. I’m sorry to say that you are severely missing out. No, these beans are nothing like your bean chilli or refried beans on tacos. Baked beans, made famous by the much loved brand Heinz are simply haricot beans in a smooth tomato sauce. The tomato sauce however, is bright orange and packed with artificial ingredients, this puts a real downer on a dish that has the potential to be a complete balanced meal all on its own. Packed with protein, iron, and even considered one of your five a day. There are many baked bean recipes on the internet but none really live up to the the original recipe, and those dark red sauces and extra veggies certainly wouldn’t fool the kids. This is my own baked bean recipe with a smooth sauce, as close to orange as you can get without using too many processed ingredients. This recipe makes 4 servings and will last 3-4 days in an air tight container in the fridge.
Do you have a diet restriction?
This healthy baked beans recipe is:
- Gluten free
- Dairy free
- Nut Free
- Low GI
- Syn Free
- Low Fat
Step 1: The beans
The first step of this baked bean recipe is to prepare the beans. As I mentioned above baked beans are made using haricot beans. Interestingly, I searched high and low in my local supermarkets but unfortunately I couldn’t find haricot beans anywhere and I had to settle for cannellini beans. The two beans look and taste very similar, the only difference is cannellini beans are ever so slightly larger than haricot beans, but hopefully nobody will notice! Baked beans in a tinning factory are called baked beans due to the fact that the raw beans are placed in the tin, covered in sauce and then baked inside the tin. Today, were not messing around with tins, or doing any baking of beans at all.
Luckily, my beans are pre cooked and all I need to do is drain the can. However if your beans are dried you will need to soak in water for an hour or two and then cook in boiling water for 20-30 minutes. Leave your beans to one side for use later.
Step 2: The baked bean sauce
Now we can start preparing our sauce. Heat a medium sized saucepan on the hob on a low heat. To keep this sauce smooth I’ve opted for passata instead of fresh tomatoes or concentrated puree. Put 250g of passata into the saucepan along with 250ml of vegetable stock, 1/2 tsp of garlic powder and1/2 tsp of onion powder. Originally I did opt for blended onion but for the small amount needed it was not worth cutting into an onion for nor getting the food processor out so powdered versions are much more appropriate here. Stir well.
Add 1 tbsp of honey and 1 tbsp of maple syrup. The reason for the mixture is both have quite distinctive tastes and using either one or the other would sway the overall taste of the sauce too much in my opinion. However if you need a vegan alternative you can substitute this for sugar or sweetener. In tinned baked beans, lots of sugar or sweetener would be used to create that iconic flavour. Stir well.
Step 4: Give your sauce that iconic orange hue!
Along with this, add 1/4 tsp of turmeric and stir well. If the sauce starts boiling turn the heat down to avoid the sugars burning. When I was researching food colour theory for this recipe I came across a natural food dye video on YouTube. It gave me the fantastic idea of using turmeric to create a better shade of sauce but it also lead me to believe that I could use a large quantity of turmeric without affecting the taste of the sauce… I found out the hard way when first trying this recipe, that this is not true. Don’t add more turmeric than this.
Take 3 or 4 tablespoons of your sauce and add to a small bowl with 2-3 tsp of cornflour. Pour this into your sauce and mix well. You should see your sauce turn from red to orange. If your sauce is still too red you can repeat the process but but I wouldn’t advise adding too much extra cornflour to avoid the sauce becoming too thick. Cook for 3 minutes stirring constantly to let the sauce thicken.
Step 4: Add the beans
Add your cooked beans to the sauce and heat for a further 3-5 minutes, stirring well until the beans are hot. Serve over jacket potatoes, with cooked breakfasts, on the side of other British recipes such as cottage pie or, a personal favourite, poured over a slice of toast!
How to store baked beans:
Keep your baked beans in a sealed container in the fridge for 4-5 days.
How to reheat baked beans:
Place in a microwaveable bowl and cover, heat for 2 minutes in the microwave or heat on the hob in a saucepan.
Can I freeze baked beans?
Yes! Portion into containers and defrost completely before reheating.
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