One vegetarian food that I’ve never thought matches or exceeds its meat counterpart is baked beans. They don’t seem to have the depth of flavor and I think that’s because of the lack of one ingredient- bacon. The result is an absence of the smoky undertone that is a must for baked beans. So last week I set out to try and make what I hoped was something close to the real thing. I opted to use a slow cooker partly because of a little laziness on my part, but mostly to give the beans a chance to get soaked in all the flavors, and my second trick; vegetarian bacon bits. (I purchased a can of these from Augason Farms). I usually need to make adjustments after a first run recipe I’m testing but have to say these are pretty close to the meat version. My thought is serve them with a fried egg on top and toast. Maybe this is the making of the perfect Meatless Monday breakfast.
1 pound bag of navy beans
1 cup ketchup
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup agave nectar
1 generous tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/3 cup bacon bits
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Good pinch of black pepper
2 cups vegetable stock or water
Wash beans and then soak them for at least six hours. Drain the water and then rinse them again. Place the beans in a slow cooker.
While the beans are soaking, in a medium size bowl mix all the other ingredients (except for the stock) together and place the bowl in the fridge.
Drain the water from the beans and then rinse them again. Place the beans in a slow cooker.
Add the ketchup mixture and coat the beans and then slowly add the stock. Make sure everything is mixed well and then turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 8-12 hours.
(I found the navy beans took longer to cook than other beans I’ve prepared in a slow cooker so taste test them after eight hours. Also if you feel they need some salt, add it once the beans are cooked).