Last weekend, I was still in pantry cleaning mode. I spied a jar of dried pinto beans and decided to put them to boil – no soaking required since the beans themselves were pretty fresh. Some more pantry digging revealed a jar of green lentils, so I began thinking about lentil chili. Initially, this Mollie Katzen recipe caught my eye but in her write up, she mentions barbeque, and that made me long for those sticky sweet baked beans and my mind was instantly over chili.
I remembered a post from Tara at Seven Spoons earlier this year called Lentils Like Baked Beans. Yes! My inspiration and dinner was now more than just a glimmer. The original recipe calls for those quick-to-cook orange lentils and bacon, but I used what I had on hand and the resulting dish was fantastic. While I love recipes that call for ketchup (no, seriously, I do!), I was out, so I used some tomato passata along with a whole host of spices that came to mind: allspice, clove, cinnamon, chipotle, nutmeg, chili powder. It was a heady brew tamed by maple syrup and molasses and it was delicious.
For me, I have strong memories of baked beans. My mom would make a gigantic pot full of sweet baked beans studded with bacon in the winter. However, I didn’t discriminate and I even loved the kind from a can, though never the kind in tomato sauce. Only “Quebec-style” maple syrup sweetened please! That sweet liquor and those pillowy beans tasted so good over un-toasted white bread spread thickly with cold butter. That was a very happy lunch indeed.
This pot wasn’t enriched with bacon but I had some lean sliced deli ham and it almost seemed to melt away in the end, leaving only it’s smoky flavour (in a very good way, I assure you). However, you can easily turn this dish vegan or vegetarian by using vegetable stock for the chicken and replacing the ham with some smoky paprika instead. It was a trick I always did when I was vegetarian and it worked like a charm. And sometimes I’d chop in a tofu dog for a true beans & weenies remembrance!
elsewhere: Over at Poppytalk, I go all pink & magical with some blood orange, ginger and lime juice. Refreshing & suitable for a Valentine’s Day breakfast. And, don’t forget to vote for this blog as Best Canadian Blog at the 2012 Bloggies. Voting ends on February 19th & I’d love your votes! Okay, enough groveling for now :)
sticky baked lentils & pinto beans
(adapted from Seven Spoons)
This amount of dried pintos made close to 3 cups of cooked beans. This recipe uses 2 cups of cooked pinto beans, so save the remaining beans for another use.
1 c dry pinto beans
2 bay leaves
1 c dried green or brown lentils
1 T olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 green pepper, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c diced ham
1/2 c passata (strained, pureed tomatoes)
1/2 c chicken stock
1/4 c maple syrup
2 T molasses
2 T powdered mustard
1 T cider vinegar
1 T chili powder
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t chipotle powder
1/8 t freshly ground allspice
1/8 t freshly ground cloves
1/8 t freshly ground nutmeg
salt & pepper, to taste
1. Early in the day or the day before, cook your dried pinto beans. You do not need to soak these if your beans aren’t old. Bring water, beans and bay leaf to a boil and then simmer over med-low heat for an hour. Add more water if needed. Simmer over low for another 30 minutes until beans are tender but still retain their shape and have a bit of a bite (ie. not mushy). Drain.
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Cook lentils in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until tender but with bite. Drain.
4. Meanwhile, add oil to an oven proof pot over med-high heat, adding in onion, celery and green peppers. Heat until soft, stirring occasionally. Add in garlic and ham and cook for another 5 minutes. Add in all of the lentils and about 2 cups of the cooked pinto beans – you’ll probably have more pinto beans left over for another dish. Pour in the remaining ingredients and turn down the heat to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasonings. It is at this point where you should make it as you like it. Need more sweet? More vinegar? More heat? Adjust! Let it simmer, thicken and bubble for 10 minutes and then pop the whole thing in the oven, covered, for 40 minutes.