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Beans on Toast Strike Back

After a recent post profiling the wonders of Beans on Toast, a reader asked about a recipe for do-it-yourself beans.

I'm not sure why I thought the task might be tricky. The beans in question are really just navy beans in a lightly sweetened tomato sauce. So surely it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that homemade beans for toast are cheap, easy... and yes, even tastier than beans from a can.

Aside from thrift and first-hand knowledge of the ingredients, there's another significant bonus. When you make the beans yourself, you get to tweak the flavor to your liking.

In the afore-mentioned bean showdown, J and I preferred the British beans because they were less sweet and had more tangy, tomato-y flavor. But we also liked the hint of molasses in the American beans.

I started out with Muir Glen tomato sauce, because I like the organic tomatoes and the lined cans — hooray for no horrid can flavor! Muir Glen tomato sauce already has a little garlic powder, salt and vinegar in it, so it arrives slightly flavored, but all you should really notice is a vivid tomato taste.

For this experiment I used a can of small white beans that I rinsed well under running water, but in the future, I'll try to remember to just soak and cook dried navy beans in advance. If you're not really fond of the deep, bass-note richness that molasses provides, certainly feel free to substitute sugar instead.

Home-cooked beans vs. canned beans
Home-cooked beans at the foreground, Heinz beans (imported from the UK) at the rear.

You'll notice right off the color of your home-cooked beans is more bright and saturated than the beans from a can. Why? Well, you're not using any filler, like modified food starches, which will thin down the tomato sauce enough to make it more orange-red and slightly pasty by comparison.

Beans on Toast (from Scratch)
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 15oz can small white beans or navy beans (or use 2 cups cooked beans)
1 1/2 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp sugar (or to taste)
1 Tbsp rice vinegar or cider vinegar
Sliced bread (preferably whole-grain), for serving

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and simmer 15-20 minutes. Season to taste with a little more sugar, molasses or salt. Serve hot over toasted bread.


You can probably find a pound of dry navy beans for a $1 to $1.25, depending on where you live, and that bag will offer many, many beany brekkies. A small can of tomato sauce will run you .65 to $1.

Now, beans on toast isn't an expensive option to begin with, but you can immediately see how economical this protein-packed brekkie can be.

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1.14.2008

5 Comments:

Anonymous Sorina said...

This looks so delicious. I am looking forward more posts from you!

1/15/2008  
Blogger Ed said...

That looks spot on! Will give it a try.

And let us not forget a Tuscan style beans on toast with cannelini beans with olive oil, rosemary on grilled thin slices of french bread...

Beans on toast - the sky is the limit!

Thanks for sharing. Cheers!

2/10/2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was the reader, and thanks for taking up the challenge! What you've come up with is very similar to my experiments...although I got a bit fancier with schinken and worchestershire. This looks simple and really tasty so I'll try it soon.

5/22/2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oooh...I have been trying to figure out how to replicate Heinz Beans at home (I'm tired of having to drive 15 miles to get them, and then having to shell out $2 a tin)....

Thaks...I'm going to try this out and see if it cuts the mustard with my father-in-law (he's Scouse)....

5/26/2008  
Anonymous Lurker said...

I am also a big fan of Beans-On-Toast for 'brekkie', but now variate on it to merge it with Creamed Eggs; before I heat the beans, I blend in fully a raw egg, slowly heat the mixture, stirring constantly, so that the egg is fully cooked but adds a creamy richness to the finished beans.

3/12/2009  

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