This post and recipe is sponsored by Indigo Herbs who asked me to create a recipe for them using anything from their range. I was impressed by the vast range of ethically sourced produce. My attention was drawn to the pulses and seaweeds and I came up with this now favourite recipe of Baked Seaweed Beans.
Toot toot! I am going to start shouting about beans again. A big batch of home cooked beans are a boon in the kitchen and a joy for the creative home cook, a relief for a tired one. Inexpensive and friendly, beans go with everything. They are fantastic value and always better cooked from scratch at home.
Home Cooked Beans
Home cooked beans have better flavour and texture generally. Beans with bite and texture, seasoned as you like, and not as required to preserve them in a tin. Home cooked beans are resilient. You can slightly undercook them in the first boil from soaked. That way when you put them in the dish that becomes their forever home, they will finish cooking then, until just so, and not fall apart as some tinned pulses can.
To soak or not to soak? I soak my beans. People feel very strongly about this, mainly those who don’t soak. I am here to say that soaking your beans is useful, and I do it. While I agree it is true that most beans now don’t need soaking, especially with a pressure cook, soaking them overnight before cooking is no effort and your beans cook faster as a result at the least. It is all part of the rhythm and the process for me.
I do lots with beans and I love making batches of different takes on homemade baked beans. It is all very simple as the best things are, boiled haricot beans cooked until almost but not quite soft, removed to a casserole with some viscous bean water which helps make a sauce that clings when baked.
Once you have cooked a batch you can use them as the centre of meals that follow or a supporting actor. I love a big platter of beans to share with friends – post-pandemic of course! – but I also love to cook up a big pot for myself and dip in and out of it for the days that follow. Especially in busy times or when I am not feeling inclined to cook.
Embracing Seaweed in the Home Kitchen
I adore seaweed. There are two I use at home most. Dulse is a favourite which I love to add it to broths to give salt and umami depth. I love to fry it until crisp. It is so savoury and gorgeous. I love to use Kelp for broths like dashi. Here, I added a third new favourite, Irish Gutweed from Indigo Herbs. I recognised it immediately, even dried, from the rockpools of my youth and it was the cause of many a fall as I dashed over rocks. Dried and then fried it is a delight. Deeply savoury and crispy again. I will use it on rice, on eggs, everywhere. It is a perfect seasoning and will make a great seasoned salt.
In terms of how many dried beans you need to cook, I found 1kg of dried haricot beans resulted in 2450g of drained cooked weight. So for 500g of cooked beans, you need about 210g dried beans. But, just cook a batch. You won’t regret it.
- 500g cooked haricot beans
- 350g fresh tomatoes
- 300ml bean water or regular water
- 20g seaweed (I used 15g dulse seaweed and 5g gutweed, both teased apart and cut into inch sections if big)
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano or 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 big red onion, sliced (or 2 small ones)
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Oil for frying
- Salt for seasoning
Prep: Peel and finely slice the red onions and marinade in the balsamic vinegar for at least 15 minutes. Peel the tomatoes by cutting a cross in the base of them and covering them with boiling water for 1 minute. Remove and carefully peel the skin off. Remove the stem and chop.
Preheat your oven to 180C.
Put the beans in a shallow wide casserole and add the water and 10g of the dulse seaweed. Stir through. Arrange the chopped tomato, oregano and onions on top, pouring the remaining balsamic vinegar over the dish (it will give a lovely depth and tang). Cover the casserole with a lid or some foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and allow to cook further for 15 minutes.
In this time fry the remaining dulse seaweed in an even single layer in a couple of tablespoons of oil until crisp. It will take no more than a few minutes. Remove and fry the gutweed briefly, it crisps almost instantly.
Remove the casserole from the oven and season with salt to taste. Serve with the crispy seaweed piled on top.
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