Hi all, I hope you’ve had a good start to the week. Today I have a recipe inspired by another that I really wanted to cook, but lacked the main ingredients. This happens to me all the time because I’m not great at planning when I’m food shopping. I have a standing order for fresh fruit and veg that is delivered weekly. So when I go to the supermarket I don’t think about recipes to try or create. I just want to get in and out of there.
More recently, my favourite book is Dinner: Changing the Game by New York Times food editor, Melissa Clark. This book is fantastic to elevate your usually diner fare. Most recipes don’t require too many ingredients and more often then not, I have the same or similar ingredients on-hand. So the recipe I was inspired by was Tomato-braised White beans with Chorizo. Since I had no white beans, chorizo, fresh herbs or canned tomatoes, I tried to elevate a couple of cans of baked beans. I love baked beans, but the healthier, BPA free ones are often really flavourless. I end up having to add more salt, sugar or maple syrup when I cook them for breakfast or I get complains that they don’t taste like Heinz. I have been curious for a while what I could add to my baked beans to make them a more complete meal. So what eventuated tonight was a delicious stewed, with a few more simple ingredients and a lot of flavour. It went perfectly with the Skillet Brown-Butter Cornbread, also from the same book. Luckily I had everything ready to go for that recipe.
For this recipe, you can alter the vegetables for what you have on hand. You can also make it vegetarian by omitting the ham for a vegan ham or just leave it out completely. You can also add more sweet smoked paprika if you like that smokey flavour. Cornbread goes really well with this, but keep it more savoury because this stew is quite sweet. Alternatively, you could have it with crusty bread or mash potatoes. My partner loved this recipe for the sweet and savoury flavour of the stew and the buttery cornbread. My daughter wasn’t so sold, because she likes her dinner completely savoury and her ‘cake’ sweet. My child does not like sweet potatoes, peas, carrots or any other sweet vegetable or sauce. I think her biggest gripe was that the cornbread was not a sweet cake and contained corn. However, I know three other young cousins who love sweet vegetables and cornbread. So this may be a better dish to make for them when they visit.
One-pot baked bean stew
(gluten free, nut free, vegan option)
2 tbsp olive oil
150 g organic/free range leg ham (nitrate & gluten free) or vegan ham substitute (optional)
1 onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 small red capsicum, diced
2 cloves of garlic diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground smoked sweet paprika
2 cans organic baked beans (BPA and gluten free, no added salt – I used Absolute Organic)
1 can-full of filtered water
1/2 tsp sea salt or more to taste
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1-2 handfuls of baby spinach
- Heat olive oil in a large pot and place on medium heat. Then add ham and cook for a few minutes until it starts to brown. Removed the ham from the pot and place in a bowl to the side.
- Then add tomato paste, cumin, and smoked sweet paprika to the pot. Cook for a few minutes until it becomes fragrant and be careful not to burn it.
- Immediately add onion, carrots, celery, red capsicum and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften.
- Then add baked beans, a can full of water and salt. Bring the pot to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and add the ham and maple syrup. Cook for 25-30 minutes, to allow the stew to thicken.
- Take off the heat and stir through the baby spinach. Once it has wilted you may serve.