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Beans beans good for the heart

Baked beans. Humble, hearty, nutritious. Not to be sniffed at.

While I have been known to tuck into a tin of Heinz, I will say that the homemade version is a very different beast. Less sweet, more spiced and without all the nasties, they provide a nourishing meal for pretty much any time of day; as part of breakfast, on toast, over baked potatoes, as a side with something porky...

I prefer to use precooked, canned beans in this recipe. Having experimented several times with dried beans to go the whole hog, I found that they just required too much cooking time in the sauce, for not enough gain. For this dish the beans really should be completely tender and extremely soft, so tinned are ideal. If tomatoes are still in season, feel free to add a couple of fresh, but otherwise, tinned again works perfectly. Now, technically, baked beans should be baked. You can bake them if you want (once the pan is simmering just pop it in the oven), but I do mine on the hob. In the oven you’ll get a nice crusty bit around the edges, but the sauce thickens up more quickly on the stove.

Homemade baked beans

Makes a large batch, 15 minutes active time plus 30 cooking

* Onion - 1, finely dicedGarlic - 3 cloves, peeled and finely sliced

* Ground cumin - 1 tsp

* Ground coriander - 1 tsp

* Ground paprika - 1 tsp

* Tinned tomatoes - 2 x 400g tins

* Fresh tomatoes - 2 ripe (optional, if in season, otherwise don’t bother!)

* Tomato puree - 2 tbsp

* Worcester sauce - a few shakes

* Tabasco - a few drops

* Salt - 2 tsp

* Sugar - 1 tsp

* Thyme - leaves from a few stalks (or 1 tsp dried)

* White beans - 1 x 800g tin (roughly 530g drained weight)

In a large, heavy based saucepan, fry the onion, garlic and spices on a medium heat, stirring often. It should sizzle. Add a splash of water to stop things getting too dry.

Once the onion is softened, add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Bring to a simmer, with the lid off, and leave to bubble away for at least 30 minutes.




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