These baked beans make a terrific main dish. The long, slow, gentle cooking here results in a thick, sweet sauce and very soft beans.
Baked Beans with Mint, Peppers and Tomatoes
- 1 pound pinto beans, rinsed, picked over and soaked if desired in 2 quarts water for 6 hours or overnight
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- Freshly ground pepper
1. If you have soaked the beans, drain them over a bowl and use the soaking water for cooking. Combine with enough water to cover by 2 inches in a large ovenproof casserole or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer 45 minutes to an hour, until the beans are tender but intact. Stir in a salt to taste.
2. While the beans are simmering, prepare the vegetables and heat the oven to 300º F. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large heavy frying pan and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until tender. Stir in the garlic, the red pepper and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until the pepper is just tender and the onion lightly colored. Add the paprika, tomatoes, and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down a little, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add this mixture to the beans. Add freshly ground pepper and the mint, and blend the mixture thoroughly. Taste and adjust salt.
3. Place the beans in the oven and bake, covered, for 1 1/2 hours, until very tender and the broth has reduced to a thick sauce. Stir and check from time to time to make sure the beans are covered with liquid. Add water if necessary. Serve hot or warm.
Yield: Serves 6
Advance preparation: The beans can be prepared through step 2 up to a day before you bake them. The baked beans will keep for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Martha Rose Shulman writes a daily recipe feature on nytimes.com entitled Recipes for Health, and is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five cookbooks, including The Very Best of Recipes for Health, Mediterranean Harvest: Vegetarian Recipes from the World’s Healthiest Cuisine, Mediterranean Light, Provençal Light, and Entertaining Light. Her food combines pleasure and health, drawing largely from the cuisines of the Mediterranean, inherently healthy cuisines with big flavors. She is a founding contributor at www.ZesterDaily.com, and is the co-owner of the Venice Cooking School in Los Angeles, California. She lived in Paris from 1980 to 1993, where she operated a private supper club, and now lives in Los Angeles. She has co-authored books with pastry chef Sherry Yard, Wolfgang Puck, Dean Ornish, and Mark Peel, and collaborated with the Culinary Institute of America on two books, Culinary Boot Camp and Spain and the World Table. Learn more about Martha at martha-rose-shulman.com.