Previous in ToC: Szechuan Eggplant from Scratch (No Sauce from a Jar)
Next in ToC: Roasted Cabbage with Vegan Dijon Sauce
Ribsticking Vegan Baked Beans for Cold Nights
I've been wanting to do a proper vegan slowcooker beans recipe for a while now. Except for repeated viewings of Blazing Saddles, my only real experience with baked beans as a side dish has been the occasional camping trip, and the canned beans were definitely not a highlight. We're talking unappetizing, mushy beans in a sauce that somehow tastes both weak and excessively sweet at the same time. We have to be able to do something better from scratch—the bar is not very high.
A lot of the things we might eat the beans with are nice and tangy. (Examples include sandwiches with mustard, or a nice coleslaw in a vinaigrette.) In those situations, the plate could use something a little sweet for balance. Nutritionally, vegans are often looking for protein sources, and it's good to get a hefty chunk of protein from a sidedish so you can have a little more freedom with whatever else you're serving. (For example, Portobello mushroom sandwiches are delicious with dijon, but they don't have a ton of protein. Pair them with a protein source like beans and you're starting to fill in the gaps to make a complete meal.)
If you look at the possibilities for vegan bean recipes online, you'll see a fair bit of diversity but some common themes. I was a little shocked at the amount of ketchup going into crockpots (not my favourite condiment in the world) so I wanted to stay away from that. Tomato paste seems like a less ketchupy alternative. Simple brown sugar is often combined with more complex tasting sugars like maple syrup and molasses, which sounds like a great idea to me. Foods with subtle flavours were made for the slowcooker. Of course, I wanted to balance the sweet with smoky (paprika), tangy (cider vinegar and Worcestershire sauce) and spicy (sriracha). Vegetarian Worcestershire sauce wasn't terribly difficult to find (the regular stuff has anchovies in it). It seems like most health food stores carry it, although I haven't yet seen it at a big box grocery store. I chose The Wizard's Organic Vegan Worcestershire. It was very tasty.
1 lb navy beans (or pinto beans)
3 Tbl olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 bottle of beer (~2/3 cup)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 small (6 oz) can of tomato paste
2 Tbl sriracha sauce
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 Tbl cider vinegar
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
Soak the beans overnight. Drain them and put them in a pot with enough water to cover them by 3 inches. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, skimming off any foam with a large spoon, then simmer for about 40 minutes. Drain. The beans should have softened somewhat, but they will still be a bit tough at this point.
While the beans are simmering, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until quite soft. Remove from the heat and mix in the beer.
Add the beans, the onion/beer mixture, and all of the other ingredients to a big slowcooker and mix well.
Cook for 8 hours on low. While the beans are cooking, try to spend at least a couple of hours sitting with a good book and a cup of something steamy. Inhale deeply and often—the entire house will take on the aroma of pure wholesomeness. Don't be surprised if you cry a few happy tears. Slowcooking definitely helps the beans too. The flavours mature with time.
This is one my favourite cool-weather side dishes. I especially like the slight bite from the sriracha sauce—what did we do before this genius condiment hit the world?
Want more like this? Please subscribe via the RSS Feed so you can read new posts on your favourite news reader.
Posted: Tuesday, October 6, 2015