Baked beans are a delightful and simple side dish. Although they take a long time to cook, most of this time is unattended making them very easy to prepare as long as you plan ahead. Traditional American baked beans, also called Boston baked beans, contain bacon or salt pork which adds a distinctive smoky flavor. This vegetarian version makes a fine substitute; you can even add a dash of liquid smoke to approximate to background flavor provided by the meat. Tomatoes and molasses add rich, sweet flavor to the beans while mustard provides a mild kick. The long cooking time deepens the flavors. Try making these beans as a side dish to a New England themed dinner of boiled crabs and corn on the cob. Or, make these in the dead of winter; the aroma coming from the oven will erase any winter blues.
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1 pound dried navy, pea or other white beans
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
a 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup molasses
1 tablespoon ground mustard powder
salt and pepper

Cooking Instructions

Rinse the beans and place in a large pot. Cover with water and let soak overnight. Drain and transfer to a large pot; cover with fresh water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and add the salt. Skim off any foam, turn the heat down and simmer the beans, partially covered, until just tender.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Drain the beans and transfer to a large ceramic or pyrex casserole dish along with the vegetable oil, onion, tomatoes (with their juice), molasses and mustard powder. Stir the ingredients together. Add boiling water to cover the beans by about one inch and then place in the oven. Bake, uncovered, until the beans are completely tender and much of the sauce has been absorbed (2 to 3 hours), stirring occasionally and adding more water if needed. Taste and adjust the seasonings as you wish, adding more molasses or mustard powder and salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Makes 8 to 10 servings



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Traditional baked beans contain bacon or pork. To recreate the smoky flavor that meat provides, try adding a dash of liquid smoke to your beans as they cook. Or, add some minced chipotle chilies, keeping in mind, of course, that they will make your beans spicy.

If you are pressed for time or have forgotten to soak the beans overnight, you can perform a quick soak. Cover the beans with cold water in a pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. After removing from the heat, let the beans stand, covered, for 1 hour. Drain and then continue with the recipe as it is written.

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