Being British, I was brought up with baked beans a staple part of my diet. My husband was horrified when introduced to them: ‘What is this? Why are they in a can? What kind of sauce is this? Why can’t you cook them yourself?’ I think it’s fair to say that Slovenians have a much healthier attitude to food than Brits, as a general rule. They cook most things from scratch. This means that a good old tin of Heinz is hard to come by. But I do miss those beans. So I decided to D.I.Y. them, and make them vegan at the same time. I was pleased with the result, so I’m sharing the recipe with you here.
- 2 cans borlotti beans.
- 1 small jar of good-quality tomato and basil sauce, or you can make your own. I use this recipe.
- 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped, or 1 tsp dried thyme.
- A handful of chopped fresh parsley.
- 2 bay leaves.
- 1 herbal tea bag.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan 180°C), gas mark 6.
- In a medium-sized ovenproof dish, combine the beans and the water from the can with the pasta sauce. Add the herbs and the tea bag, which acts as a kind of bouquet garni (trust me!) I used a tea containing linden flower, lemon balm and mint. This mixture works well.
- Stir all of the ingredients together well then cover the dish and bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes. Switch the oven off, remove the cover from the dish, and leave the beans in the oven for another hour. They will continue to cook slowly and any excess liquid from the mixture should evaporate. If the mixture looks too dry, add a little water and give it a stir.
Sweet potatoes are a great vegan food because they are packed with nutrients. I enjoyed my baked beans inside a baked sweet potato. This makes for a delicious and nutritious vegan dish!