I don't eat a lot of beans and legumes in general - for some time I went without due to a badly compromised digestive system. I am not alone on this front. Many people have difficulty digesting legumes - they may experience foggy brain, gas, intestinal discomfort, irritability.  As such it is very important to properly prepare legumes. This would include: soaking your beans overnight if not for a couple of days (changing the water twice a day) until they grow little tails; chewing them thoroughly; keeping the quantities low; experimenting with smaller beans (which are easier to digest); adding kelp seaweed to the beans to improve flavour and digestion; throwing in some apple cider vinegar towards the end of the process to help break them down and increase their digestibility.

Now that my health is back on the right track I am having fun re-introducing (well prepared) legumes into my diet to bring about more variety and a high-quality, plant-based protein alternative to meat. High in iron, vitamin B and fiber, beans are hugely versatile and as long as they are prepared properly an awesome inclusion. I have had them a couple of times in the last week and will say I have experienced just a tiny bit of discomfort in my tummy, enough to make me realise that they are not a regular treat and that perhaps I should be soaking mine for longer than overnight. So I am going to doing some experimenting.

You'll need:
500 grams great northern or navy beans (soaked overnight or for a couple of days, changing the water twice a day)*
1 heaped teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
150g pancetta or bacon, roughly chopped (optional)
1 can chopped tomatoes (or two if no passata)
350g jar (or thereabouts) organic, sugar free passata or tomato sauce (I used a spicy one, would otherwise probably add a little chilli to my beans)
4 anchovy fillets
2 cloves garlic
2 heaped teaspoons smoky paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

* You will notice that I have used a large quantity of beans. I figure it's best to make a large quantity that I can freeze for a rainy day (like today).

Place beans, turmeric and fennel in a saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 45-60 minutes.

Turn on your oven to 160 degrees celsius.

Heat the oil over low to medium heat in a large casserole dish. Saute the onion for 3 or 4 mins then add the pancetta/bacon and saute for another 4 mins or until bacon is cooked. Add the garlic, anchovies, thyme, oregano, paprika and ground coriander and cook for a minute or so. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and jar of passata, bring to the boil and simmer with lid on for 10 minutes.

Drain the beans and add to the tomato mix. Season with salt and pepper. Pop into the oven for 30 minutes to bake, lid on.

Serve as is or with an egg plopped into the middle of each serve and popped back into the oven to bake (as per photo!).

To make this hearty breakfast above, I merely dug a little hole in my baked beans and plopped in a raw egg. It was then put in the oven for about 30 minutes (or until the egg is at your likening).

March 18, 2013 — Amy Crawford

Made by Amy

simple = good