Vegetarian Baked Beans

The New Apple Market on 4th (a welcome respite across the street from the expensive monolith that is Safeway) had Italian Passata on sale for a dollar a bottle the other day and being the self-proclaimed tomato enthusiast that I am I grabbed four bottles without acknowledging the gallon of milk, tub of yogurt, pasta, and lemons that already filled my basket. The woman that rang me through looked nervous for me but I managed to walk home in the rain without my bag ripping in half. The obvious choice here would be a marinara sauce but I felt like doing something different, a recipe that I’m not particularly well-versed in. I looked around in my freezer and found an unopened bag of dried kidney beans and I suddenly knew that I wanted to make baked beans. I know a purist would insist on the addition of some cured meat and the use of navy beans but I was without bacon and much prefer the meltingly creamy properties of kidney beans. I cooked the beans beforehand in boiling water instead of in a slow oven as I find that makes the beans less likely to dry out. This is an apt dinner choice if you are in possession of a) time and b) lots of random condiment type supplies; besides these two caveats this recipe is insanely easy.

Vegan Baked Beans


1 lb. of dried beans

1 bottle of Italian Passata

1 small onion, diced finely

1 1/2 cups of large cherry tomatoes

1 tbsp. of honey Dijon mustard

1/2 cup of brown sugar (unpacked)

1/4 cup of molasses

1 tbsp. of soy sauce

1 tsp. of Worchester sauce

A dash of paprika (I used Hungarian)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

1. Place your beans in a large pot with an oven-proof lid (or not, if you want to transfer the beans to a casserole dish before putting them in the oven.) You can soak them overnight in room temperature water and then boil them in enough water to cover for an hour or you can pour boiling water over them and allow them to soak for an hour, dump the water out, cover them with fresh water, and then boil for an hour. I usually end up doing the latter because I don’t claim to possess vast amounts of culinary foresight. Drain the beans after they have cooked.

2. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Either leave the beans in their original pot or move them to a lidded casserole dish. Now all you need to do is combine all of the ingredient with the beans and put everything in the oven for about five hours. I’m sure four hours would suffice and six hours would do no harm, the point of this recipe is its ease and hands-off style of preparation.

3. Remove from the oven (be careful, I kept forgetting that the pot was insanely hot and burned myself several times.) This is wonderful on its own or with a green salad and orange slices.

When I made this I was listening to Lotus Plaza and really appreciating the warmth of my kitchen and the soft heat coming from my oven all afternoon. I think Lotus Plaza makes really subtle music; beautiful but not in a overachieving crescendo of ambience sort of way. Lotus Plaza is the solo project of Lockett Pundt, the guitarist for Deerhunter, and it is easy to see this music in relation to the Deerhunter/Atlas Sound family. Subtle music, subtle heat, subtle comfort.

Lotus Plaza – Red Oak Way

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