Smoky baked beans with aubergine


Baked beans have so much potential as a meal. Not only are they filling and packed full of protein they are popular with children and count as one of your five a day. Yet shop bought ones often disappoint. They are often high in salt and sugar, and once you've tried homemade ones, just seem to lack a little something in the flavour department.

I quite often make homemade baked beans for a weekend lunch but this is the first time I've added aubergines. Rather than making a classic hidden vegetable recipe, where the veggies are blended into the sauce I've chosen to cook the aubergines for a really long time, over a low heat, so that by the end of the cooking time they can be broken down and mixed in with the sauce. In the photo you can still see the aubergine but for the portions that I served to my children I mashed it in with a fork. This worked perfectly because it was so soft.

This baked beans recipe is packed full of flavour. They are hearty, filling and smoky and make the perfect vegetarian topping for a baked potato or a side for your weekend brunch. They're also excellent on toast!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp tamari sauce ( tamari is a light, gluten free soy sauce)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 aubergine, peeled and chopped
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin of haricot beans
Freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 120°C. Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof saucepan. Add the chopped onion and cook over a low-medium heat for around 10 minutes until soft. Stir often. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring well. Stir through the tamari, smoked paprika, mustard powder and maple syrup.

Add the aubergine, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Stir occasionally and cook for 15 minutes until the aubergine has softened and started to break down. Add the chopped tomatoes, the haricot beans and some freshly ground black pepper. I don't add salt because this is for the kids as well but if you wish you can add a large pinch of salt at this stage too.

Put the pan in the oven and cook for 3-4 hours until the aubergine has softened and broken down. Stir occasionally.

Serve hot with toast or on top of a baked potato.