Monday, January 27, 2014

Smoky Baked Beans

I create a weekly menu to help save money on food.  I check my pantry first and this week it was a toss up between white beans and French lentils.  I had lots of millet and quinoa, too. Since our meals are vegetarian, main dishes include grains, pasta, tofu and tempeh dishes. I choose vegetables in in season, and I always have a few selections from the farmers' market.

Though beans are a weekly staple in our house, they have a bad rap.  Beans can cause digestive disturbances and they're often referred to as "the poor man's meat."  They aren't paleo, but neither am I and if you want to be economical, maybe you should reconsider beans. They are filled with nutrition so for just pennies, you can be totally satisfied.  I once did a demo at a food bank because the manager said, people will take peanut butter over beans,  most people just don't know how to cook them.  If you aren't used to beans, add them slowly.  Add a few to salads or soups and gradually increase your intake.  

Here are some tips on digesting beans. 

Let me add one additional tip: if you get this year's bean harvest (at the farmers market), they are much more digestible.  Cooking old beans is like trying to soften gravel from the driveway.  Those beans that have been in the back of your cupboard for years--get rid of them, pronto.  

Farmers' markets may be more expensive but you know when the crop was harvested and often the flavors are amazing.

But if you're on a budget this year like me, I get that too.

A friend asked what I was having for dinner yesterday and when I said Baked Beans, Corn Muffins and Coleslaw, she said,  "Are you kidding me, that sounds like prison food."  I don't take myself very seriously so I thought it was funny.  Maybe people think of canned beans when you mention baked beans, but I started wondering if my whole weekly menu was similar to prison fare.

Here is my weekly dinner menu for this week:

Smoky Baked Beans, coleslaw with carrots, corn muffins
Tortilla Soup, tempeh taco sliders, green salad
Quinoa Fritters with salsa, vegetable stir fry, corn tortillas
Tofu-Shiitake Mushroom Scramble, tempeh bacon, whole grain toast
Cuban Red Beans and Rice, sauteed garlic and kale, carrot salad
Orzo Pasta with Spinach and Pine Nuts, marinated beets, green salad

I only write enough for six days because one day is bound to be leftovers, sandwiches or veggie burgers.  Or we may go out to eat, but this is my year of living frugally.   I'm not sure it's prison fare--I think they must get cheap subsidy stuff from the government.  You wouldn't find pine nuts or quinoa fritters and you might not even find vegetarian options there.

It's probably more expensive to use canned sweet potato puree.  I actually saved this can and used a real sweet potato that I found for 79 cents a pound.

Smoky Baked Beans
(Serves 4)

1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided 
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 or 2 dried chipotle chiles
1 cup white beans, soaked overnight and drained
2 cups water
4 or 5 strips tempeh bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
1 can sweet potato puree
Sea salt to taste (optional)

Saute onions in half of canola oil until browned.  Remove from heat.  Stir in molasses, prepared mustard, brown sugar and garlic. 

Place in a pot with drained white beans and water.   Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for one hour or until beans are tender.  Saute the tempeh bacon in remaining canola oil until browned.   Stir sweet potato puree and tempeh bacon into the white beans.  Continue to simmer until you want to serve the beans.   Season with sea salt, if desired.  Remove the chipotle chiles before serving. 

Excuse me, but we'd like a second helping.


Miz Helen said...

I am always so fascinated with heirloom beans and their very distinctive flavors. Your Smoky Bake Beans look delicious, that could be my whole meal. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a great week!
Miz Helen

Joan said...

well I think your 'prison fare' sounds delish! I love baked beans and will truly be adding this recipe to my other favs!2

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Hi Joan and Helen, I'm such a fan of baked beans, it's one of my favorites. I actually doubt they have it that good in prison:)