Baked beans were one of my favorite cook-out sides growing up. And, I did get made fun of for it by my siblings and cousins. If I pronounced my love for them out loud, someone would for sure start up the famous beans song, which ends in how it is good for your heart and makes you know what. So, I am always a bit shy in proclaiming my love for baked beans. But seriously, I am all grown up now and confident in my food choices. So, why not love baked beans?! They are delicious and nutritious and can most of the time be made vegan if you desire. And, lentils tend to be a lot easier to digest than other legumes. So, if you do for some reason have issues in your gut with beans, I say try lentils! Throw away your misconceptions, strap on your big girl boots, and make yourself a nice dish of baked beans. With lentils? Yes, with lentils. Not traditional, like my last recipe of homemade baked beans, but interesting and tasty for sure.
Lentils are so simple to cook. You just need at least an hour and you will have yourself a dish. You can forget the grilled meat and stick to baked lentils, veggies and fruit for dessert and still stick to a complete plant-based diet for a summer gathering or holiday. Yes, Memorial Day is just around the corner, and an unofficial official way to start the summer. I added some uncured, all-natural, unprocessed, turkey bacon to my dish at the end for some added spunk and flavor, but you do not need to add this. Or if you desire could add other forms of 'meat-sides' or vegan versions of bacon (I think this eggplant version would be yummy) as well. Really, it is what you make of it. Stick to the basics though, good green lentils, and spices to sweet and spicy you up.
Lentil Baked Beans Recipe
1 medium finely chopped yellow onion
3-4 garlic cloves minced or grated
2-3 TB of olive oil drizzled on the bottom of the pot/pan
1 1/4 cup of dry green lentils (soaked overnight if you wish)
3 cups of pure water
1/2 cup of organic ketchup (agave sweetened)
1/4 cup of mustard
3 TB of tamari sauce
2 TB of agave nectar (or sucanat is a good option as well, more or less if you desire)
2-3 TB of apple cider vinegar (if you like tangy, use 3 TB, if not too much use 2 TB)
1/4 cup of blackstrap molasses
2 ts. of dried cumin
2 ts. of paprika
2 ts. of dried cilantro (added touch of flavor)
1/2 ts. of sea salt
1/2 ts. of ground black pepper
Start with sauteing the chopped onion and grated garlic in the olive oil in a large 5 quart pot on high heat. Saute till onions are translucent and garlic is toasted. Then add the dry lentils and toast those up for just a few minutes, continue stirring on high heat. Then add the water and the rest of the ingredients and spices. This is when you will need to turn the heat down to medium and cover your pot to let the lentils cook. This process can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on how high your heat is, and how fast your water soaks into the lentils.
If after 45 minutes your water is soaked up and your lentils looked cook, pull out a spoonful of them and try them and see if they are soft and ready for eating. If they are, then turn your heat off and continue to let the lentil sit and finish cooking/cooling off a bit. But if they are still a bit "crunchy" and you want them soft... then I suggest you add another cup of water and keep cooking on low until the water is soaked in and the lentils will be softer. When lentils are soft and sauce is all soaked in and thick, you are ready to serve...
To have these lentils be 'baked-beans' I suggest after you cook them that you put into a serving glass bowl that can be covered and also warmed in the oven. This is when you would add your extra bacon options or even an added dollup of ketchup or molasses for warming and added topping. To warm the baked lentils just add to a 275 degree oven for 20-30 minutes to have the lentils be warmed and baked for your special occasion (or for dinner ;)
I hope you get outside and enjoy this amazing pre-summer weekend and be blessed!
Much love to you!