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.
You know, I’ve eaten many a can of tomato sauced baked beans with a big breakfast (like a full English breakfast), but beans and bbq isn’t done here. Your bean dish looks rustic and hearty and more suited to lunch or dinner than breakfast. Quite a list of ingredients too!
Genie, it’s pretty uncommon to eat beans with breakfast over here – this is more of a lunch/dinner dish! And a good one at that 🙂
Mmmm, that looks yummy. Now I know what we’re having for dinner tomorrow!!
You know, I can’t say I’ve ever really had cravings for baked beans, but I think that’s because I didn’t grow up with them. With all of my favorite spices starring here…I can feel the craving coming on, though.
I can see why this would be an addictive dish and I REALLY must get on and clean out my pantry also.. It seems that beans are almost a seasonal food for late winter, I guess because all our stores are becoming low after a winter on the prairies. c
I love baked beans – the switch-up here is interesting and the flavor sounds awesome! What a spectacular way to clean out your pantry!
I like recipes that call for ketchup too and actually used to use ketchup when I didn’t have tomato paste on hand haha. I need to use smoked paprika more often.
I just made Tara’s recipe last weekend! I pretty much doubled the flavor ingredients called for because it seemed a bit bland at first, but I really like your addition of spices and molasses. Great idea. It wasn’t very photogenic, so my version will probably never see the light of day 🙂
I absolutely love lentils and really like the combination of flavours and spices you’ve used here. I came by way of the Canadian bloggers and its nice to meet a fellow BC blogger 🙂 Looking forward to following!
I grew up dining on an occasional can of sweet baked beans with that distinguishable piece of lard in it. I find a slice of toast with baked beans is delicious and hardy. I’d love to make my own pot of this version at home one day since I avoid buying canned foods now.
Wendy, I hope you gave it a go. I see many repeats for this dish over here!
Joanne, it’s a good dish and I’m sure you’ll start developing some strong cravings for it one of these days.
Cecilia, I love a good pantry clean up! You can discover the most amazing things and switch up the routine a bit.
Thanks Amanda, this was muchly enjoyed 🙂
Phew, Ashely, glad I’m not the only one! There’s something about the tangy/sweet of ketchup that is so great. I hope you try this out – without the meat of course.
Ha, so funny Nicole! We’re on the same wave length. I think the extra spices and molasses really helped. I just adjusted so much and went with my own taste.
Lyndsay, thanks for stopping by and saying hi!
Joanne, nothing here is from a can. Beans are dried, passata comes in a glass bottle – it’s all good! Now, just need to find that scary fatty bacon 🙂
Ooooh, girl, this looks delicious. My family grew up in Maine, so I have fond Yankee memories of sticky, maple-y baked beans served with brown bread from a can (remember that stuff??!) thickly spread with butter. Heavenly.
I made this. The mirepoix is a new starting point, and I think those flavors make for a good start. Agreed that personalizing the flavor is essential – I have a friend whose family cooks beans regularly, and each family member opens the pot as the day progresses and everyone adds a little something to the mix.
But for me, baked beans need to have more of a bite, and that sticky sweet/sour mouthfeel, so 1/2 c passata wasn’t sufficient. I added about a quarter cup more vinegar, and a few glugs of Stubb’s Spicy Bar-B-Q Sauce (ok, it’s fancy ketchup, I’ll give you that). A great success and a healthier recipe than the standard North American version.
I love the falvour of the pinto beans. “Alubias Pintas2 in Spain are in popular stew dishes in the North of Spain, like Asturias or Cantabia
I am putting my beans on to soak RIGHT THIS MINUTE!!! Tomorrow will be stormy and chilly here in northeast Texas so this will be just the thing for our late lunch!
Cozy Herbivore, baked brown bread in a can???! No, I’ve never heard of such a thing…but I’m strangely curious. I do remember 70s cookbooks with recipes for baking brown bread in cans so there must be a tradition somewhere.
Robert, yes, adjust for your own tastes! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I do like this a bit on the sweet side but if you like it bold and spicy by all means 🙂
I love pinto beans too, kitchenvoyage. Thanks for stopping by!
Molly, I hope you love this! Enjoy. Oh, and I never soaked my beans, I just slow cooked them and it took about an hour or so.
I have to tell you how much I enjoyed these beans! I had to deviate slightly from your recipe as I did not have all the required ingredients (all spice, lentils, maple syrup – I used honey) but the end result was still min-blowing!!!
Correction: that was supposed to say “mind-blowing” 🙂
I love that baked beans are such a classic recipe everyone’s got their own take. Your seem wonderfully hearty, and now I’m going to crave them until I make a batch. PS. Heading over to cast my vote right now!
Bijoux, so glad you enjoyed these beans! Glad it went over well with honey instead of maple syrup – good call 🙂 Hooray!
Thanks so much Elizabeth for your kind words and your vote. Appreciated!
O.M.G. these are amazing!! My tummy is sooo full and I still want another serving! I used 4 links of venison/pork sausage instead of the ham and left out/added a few spices. I didn’t add allspice or chili powder or the bay leaf(had the last two, just forgot them), subbed more beans for the lentils(didn’t have) and used a bottled salsa for the tomatoes. Everything else was the same and it was AWESOME!!!
Thanks for this!!
Molly, I’m so glad that you enjoyed this dish. Hooray!!!