Slow cooker vegetarian baked beans in tomato sauce

baked_beans_sc2I’m not sure why I’ve been so darn reluctant to share these beans out. I was too thrilled to finally hit upon a simple baked beans  recipe that didn’t come loaded with sugar or rely on products with their own set of ingredients as an ingredient. I ‘m also not completely sure why, despite said reluctance, I’m posting them now.

Maybe the reason for both is that these still feel like a work-in-progress. Don’t get me wrong, they’re good, good. They’ve got terrific, hardy texture and a savory tomato sauce that makes heavily sweet or salty canned counterparts seem pasty and drowned in excess. But I feel like there’s loads of potential to give them a bit more pop, extra wow. I’m in limbo with them. And I both hesitate and want to put them out there because that’s how I’m feeling right now. A little in limbo, knowingly imperfect and both comfortable and shy about it.

On a year leave of absence from teaching, I LOVE being home with Little Monkey. I also have more freelance than straightforward spare time, and it feels satisfying to still be able to contribute a little bit financially. You could say it’s a perfect temporary set-up, especially since I can’t bear the thought of leaving my baby anywhere for an extended period of time. Yet,  even though we get out and do things and see people every day, I get kind of lonely. I miss being part of an in-person team. Sometimes I feel vulnerable and apprehensive about next steps.

photo (4)I find myself reaching out to others hoping their experiences and feelings will lend clarity to muddled feelings, but as helpful and wise as everyone is, it’s kind of like expecting a Being Grown-up for Dummies guide. It always comes back to: figure it out for yourself. That, and trust. Trust in the future, in resilience, in the heart’s knowledge and the mind’s practical reality. Trust and be grateful, for the splendid, spoiled opportunity to have and question choices.

For now, I’m going to trust in beautiful future variations for these beans. Because all the imperfection unloading aside, you won’t regret making them, or adding your own tweaks, spices, and dashes of sweet and/or heat to them. You’ll get a whole bunch to top over potatoes, spread over rice, or dig into on their own. You’ll never have to open a can for great-tasting beans again, if you don’t want to, and the made-from-scratch goodness is barely more effort than getting out the can opener. That is a perfect thought.

 

Slow cooker baked beans in tomato sauce

  • 1 pound dried navy beans, soaked overnight in water
  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can no-salt added tomato sauce OR 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
  • generous dashes each of black pepper, sea salt, ground cumin, chili powder, and onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

*optional: 1/4 cup brown sugar or maple syrup

Drain and rinse the beans. Add all ingredients to slow cooker  and cook on low 8 hours or until beans are soft.

 

  1. Lisa
    July 4, 2015

    If this recipe is anything like I think it is you have posted what are “English” beans in my house: simple, humble Heinz beans in tomato sauce which I pay *way* too much for online because the stores around me don’t sell it! It’s also the base for a beloved Grandmother’s baked bean recipe that once again the stores don’t sell the base for either. I have high hopes!!! Bought the beans just now to get the tomatoes. Thank you for your post

    • Wendy McMillan
      July 4, 2015

      I really hope they work for you, Lisa! I haven’t made these in a long time–so now I plan to and will update if something works better. We miss the humble Heinz beans in tomato sauce, too.

  2. Sarah
    December 11, 2016

    My husband missed his Heinz beans and since we refuse to pay $4 a can at gourmet stores we had no choice but to make our own. Your recipe is by far the simplest recipe we’ve tried and so tasty. We both agree they are better than Heinz because they dont have that tinny can taste or that slimy consistency of Heinz beans. Thanks so much for posting. We never have to miss Heinz beans again.

    • Wendy McMillan
      December 18, 2016

      Ah, I’m sorry I missed this until now! Thank you so much for sharing–that is so gratifying. And now I’m inspired to make them again this week! 🙂

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