Vegetarian Baked Beans

Servings: 8
Preheat: 350
Prep Time: 24 hours

The way I cook is all about big pots-full of things, and freezing or canning for later: cook once, eat multiple times. For the price of 1 pound of dry beans and a few simple ingredients, the yield is enough for six or eight portions, most of which are frozen in small containers for later use.

This easy recipe takes very little active prep, but lots of waiting on each end for soaking and then baking.


1 pound dry beans (I like a Cranberry type, but a creamier-textured Navy-style small white bean is the traditional choice and cooks faster; in this batch I used ‘Yellow Eye’)
2 quartered medium onions
1/4 cup+ molasses
1/4 cup+ maple syrup
4 Tbsp. grainy mustard
4-6 Italian-style paste tomatoes, roughly cut up—alternatively use other tomatoes, canned tomatoes, or even some red sauce
boiling water, enough to cover an inch or so above solids in pot
small amount of olive oil


Soak the beans overnight; discard the water. Add fresh water and simmer beans briefly (maybe 30 minutes) to just barely tender while preheating oven to 350ish. The “right” temperature really varies with the size of pot you are using; you want the beans to bubble in the oven.

Put water on to boil.

Coat an oven-proof covered pot, such as a Dutch oven or large Pyrex casserole or ceramic bean pot, with a splash of olive oil. Lay the quartered onions in the bottom. (Note on selecting a pot: There must be enough headroom to put in all ingredients above, plus at least 1 inch of boiling water, plus clearance to prevent overflows.)

Drain beans; dress them with the other ingredients above (sweeteners and mustard and tomatoes). Pour over the onions.

Pour boiling water over the mixture until it’s an inch or so above the solids.

Cover and bake until done, between two hours and forever. Many recipes say to leave baked beans uncovered while cooking; doing so, with certain large beans, I have had it take six hours or more. I cover the casserole, and periodically check to see if water is receding. If so, I taste a bean; if not nearly ready, I add more boiling water, often a couple of times.

Once the beans reach an almost-ready tenderness, uncover and turn up heat to 375F the last hour (give or take) to reduce the liquid to a thick, dark brown syrup, turning the ingredients a couple of times to mix everything up.

If the flavor isn’t sweet enough, or tomato-ey enough, or wants salt, add it during this last phase. Or balance the maple-to-molasses ratio to suit your taste. This is a flexible process, not delicate chemistry. You can even make the beans soupier, with more sauce than I like, by not cooking down so long.

Again: The freshness of the beans you start with, how well you soak/cook them first, and the vessel you cook in really make the timing and temperature combination vary. Experiment.

Spiced Chickpea and Carrot Salad

Servings: 4
Preheat: 0
Prep Time: 
Source: Carol

5 Times this recipe will serve 35 to 40 people


1 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 large onion sliced
1 cup sliced carrots
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 to 3 TBS olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 TBS white wine vinegar
1 TBS honey
salt and peper


Drain chickpeas and toss them with carrots
Heat olive oil. Saute onions and then add garlic.
Add spices, stir and cook for one minute.
Add carrots and chickpeas. Saute, stirring for a few minutes. Remove from heat and add vinegar and honey.
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Add cilantro

Anasazi Beans with Juniper

Servings: 4
Anasazi beans are pretty, mottled purple and white beans. They are an ancient and eaten by the Anasazi Indians in the past and now being cultivated in Colorado. They can be found in natural foods stores If you can’t find them, pinto beans are good cooked the same way.

This bean dish is truly simple and very satisfying. Often when I’m riding on the desert, my horse sidles into the shade of a juniper tree and lets me grab a small handful of the blue berries as we pass. There are always a few in my jacket pocket, handy when I want to cook these beans. One of my favorite meals is this dish with Wild Green Salad (page 44) and Piñion Bread (page 32). It is utterly basic and satisfying in the way that complicated food often isn’t.

2 cup dried Anasazi or pinto beans
10 coriander seeds
8 juniper berries
I sm onion
1 Tbsp sunflower seed or light olive oil
1 tsp ground red chili (optional)
1 tsp dried Mexican or Greek oregano
2 ½ qrt water

Sort through the beans, rinse them well, cover them with cold water, and set them aside for 6 hours or overnight.

Bruise the seeds and berries in a mortar and chop the onion into small squares Warm the oil in a wide-bottomed soup pot; add the onions, coriander seeds, juniper berries, chili, and oregano. Cook together over medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the beans and add them to the pot along with the fresh water. Bring to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Add salt to taste and continue cooking until the beans are as tender as you like them-probably another 30 minutes or so. When done, check the seasoning. Serve the beans in a bowl with the broth

Suggestion:There are lots of tasty additions you can use-cilantro, mint, scallions, spoonfuls of thick Mexican cream, cheese, and so forth-but try the b-zans plain first. They should have a wonderful clean, uncluttered taste that can be quite refreshing.