Flash in the Pan: Baked Beans Nested on Greens
October 30, 2008
I’ve decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly, or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required. Here’s today’s “Flash in the Pan.”]
[Oh, and before I continue: notice the photo? Notice anything different? Um, like, actual detail on the food? Well, this here is my very first shot with my new, stunningly beautiful, too-complex-for-my-current-level-of-knowledge, can't-believe-how-heavy-this-thing-is, smashing and awesome and really, you shouldn't have but I LOVE IT camera! It was my birthday gift from The HH last week, and I am thrilled to bits with it! (I can't wait to actually learn how to use it.) For now, I'm still learning, so please excuse the awkward and unretouched photos that may appear here for a while. . . but wow, just look at those beans!!]
My friend The Architect married his highschool sweetheart this past weekend. Well, not literally. You see, they didn’t actually know each other in high school. However, she teaches high school, and she’s also his sweetheart; so, close enough. As both of them are extremely involved in environmental issues and preserving the local habitat, the wedding was an elegant event in a bucolic setting just north of where we live. And, true to form, the ceremony was outdoors, amid the towering maples and the burbling streams and the chattering squirrels. Oh, and the pelting rain and the occasional snowflake and the sodden leaves being torn from the trees and whipping across our faces path. Because, you see, it was late October. In CANADA. (Let’s just say, I wore earmuffs to the ceremony).*
Still, it was a joyful, enjoyable affair and the HH and I ate, drank, and danced like it was 1999. After so much weekend revelry, I decided I wanted something simple for dinner yesterday.
Now, it’s possible I’ve mentioned before that I am basically a lazy cook. Extremely lazy. And, as I (now) do with chickpeas for the occasional mock tuna salad, I also tend to keep cans of baked beans on hand for those occasional evenings when I crave their sweet, soft, quick and filling nourishment.
I didn’t even realize there existed specifically vegan baked beans until I was an undergrad in university, when I first lived (and cooked) on my own. Because my mother was an unacknowledged vegetarian herself, the only kind of baked beans she ever used were the “in tomato sauce” flavor (naturally vegan). In university, however, my room mate was the grocery shopper. One week, I requested canned baked beans, and she brought home the bacon beans. I opened the can in anticipation of my usual leguminous fulfillment. What I encountered, instead, was a single cube of pasty, greyish-white, gelatinous pork fat. At first, I couldn’t imagine what it was, but then I read the label and. . . wow, you wouldn’t believe how those saucy beans stick to the inside of the garbage can.
I love to eat baked beans just as they are, with a plump spelt bagel torn into pieces that I use to sop up the sauce. The Nurse doctors hers up with kethcup, mustard, maple syrup, corn kernels (!) and hot dogs (blech); the CFO makes hers from scratch (also vegan, but that’s just a coincidence). Lately, I’ve been trying to eat greens every day, so I thought about combining the beans with something dark and leafy. As it happened, my mind was already on steamed greens since I read about kale boiled in stock on Orangette (but 30 minutes? Molly, is that really necessary?) and Sally’s latest post on Beans and Greens. I figured, why not use up some chard I had in the house? Molly served her kale with eggs; and don’t those beans have a naturally ovoid shape? It was meant to be(an).
You won’t believe how easy this dish is. I loved the textural contrast of the beans’ exterior firmness and slightly creamy interior, set against the soft yet springy chard; the sweet-smoky bean sauce and the astringent bitterness of the greens, in every bite. Of course, you could also simply toss the two ingredients together, but those beans look so much more jewel-like when nestled sweetly inside the wreath of chard, don’t you think? A perfect way to follow up that weekend of celebrations.
I’ll be away visiting the CFO this weekend, so I’m going to miss all the Halloween fun! However, thanks to the magic of WordPress, I do have a Halloween-inspired post for y’all over the weekend.
Have fun Trick or Treating, everyone!
Baked Beans Nested on Greens
1 large bunch of your favorite leafy greens, washed, trimmed, sliced thin (chop and use stems if possible)
about 1/2 cup vegetable stock, any type
1 can of your favorite baked beans (or homemade if you have them), heated through
Heat the broth in a nonstick frypan or dutch oven over medium heat. Place the stips of greens over the liquid, press down to cover as much as possible, and cover the pan or pot. Reduce heat to low, and cook the greens until just wilted, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the beans according to the directions on the can. Arrange the greens in a wreath on a plate, and gently spoon the hot beans in the center for a nested effect. Eat. Makes 2 servings. (Quick. Easy. Tasty. So simple, a little birdy could almost make it.)
“Mum, the beans look okay, but if that little birdy isn’t doing anything else, you know we’d be happy to, um, dispose of it for you. . . “
* Let’s also just say, I want to move to California. Or New South Wales. Or the Bahamas. But no, I’m stuck here, where I wore earmuffs, on October 26th. The older I get, the more I realize: comfort trumps fashion, every time. And–why, yes, I do believe this marks the official launch of my “the weather is too cold I hate it I have to move away from here somebody save me” winter weather whingeing. And–lucky you!–it continues unabated, for the next 6 months!