Photo courtesy of Xnowledge

Makes 4-6 servings

With the chill of late fall ahead, baked beans are one of the loveliest and most comforting simple meals of the season.

Baked beans are tasty and economical requiring little more than a package of dried beans and some herbs to get you going and the variety of possibilities is endless. Here is my favourite recipe

The times for precooking beans can vary from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the age and dryness of the beans, so tesing is important. Slow cooking  in the oveen allows the beans to absorb the flavours. Canned white beans can be used instead but they still need all the oven time

  • 2 cups (500 ml) dried navy, great northern or pea beans
  • 2 Tbsp  (25 ml) olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, pealed and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, seeded, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp (15ml) chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp ( 10 ml) dried
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) chopped fresh rosemary or 2 tsp (10  ml) dried
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) chopped fresh thyme leaves or 2 tsp (10 ml) dried
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp (25 ml) maple syrup
  • generous dash of hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) salt or to taste

Rinse the beans to remove any grit or pebbles. Cover the beans with water, soak overnight, drain and discard water. Place the beans in a saucepan with enough fresh water to cover them. Bring to a gentle simmer (do not boil as the beans will toughen), cover and cook for 45 minutes or until the beans are tender and the skins have begun to burst. Older beans take longer to cook. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 Degrees F (160 degrees C). In a heave saucepan or Dutch oven  on medium-low heat, stir together the oil, onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Cover  and gently sweat for 5 minutes, stirring several times so the vegetables don’t burn. Sir in the bell pepper, oregano, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves, cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Add beans with their cooking liquid, maple syrup and pepper sauce. If you are using a saucepan, transfer the mixture to an ovenproof casserole with a lid and bake the beans for 2 hours, checking often, to make sure the beans have not dried out. Add a little water. If the beans have dried. Season with salt near the end of cooking.

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