While I have baked beans in the middle of the summer, during the biggest heat wave of the summer, no less, I actually try not to use the oven in the summer. The Mango BBQ Beans, which appeared a few times this summer, were perfect because they were cooked on the stovetop. Why would I want to heat up my home with the oven when I am actively trying to keep things cool at the same time?
Last week, it was still summer; this week it is definitely fall. The lows at night were 6C and I was worried about frost in my garden. I kept adding more layers each morning as I froze while riding my bike to work. I am sad to say that I think I brought winter home with me from Iceland. :(
Since I ate primarily raw while in Iceland (courtesy of a fabulous resto, Glo, right across from our hotel in Reykjavik), I was craving comforting, homey dishes upon my return. Thankfully, I had some meals that I had frozen before we left for vacation, and Rob eagerly whipped up a batch of dal bhat.
When my jetlag finally subsided enough that I was ready to tackle the kitchen, I peered into my bean collection, glanced out at my garden brimming with herbs, and figured a light, lemony, baked bean dish was in order.
Bright and summery with the herbs and lemon, zippy from the chili flakes, yet comforting with the creamy white beans, this was a perfect dish to throw into my oven on a lazy weekend afternoon. The house smelled great, the kitchen warmed up and my belly was decidedly content.
Baking the beans allows a more even cooking temperature that results in creamy beans, but also roasted the garlic and herbs together into a sultry sensation. I modified Kim’s recipe to use the herbs in my own garden and used less oil, but this is completely malleable to whatever strikes your fancy. Pick your favourite herb or herbs. I was a bit perplexed about the baked lemon, but in the end, I kept it with the beans and found I could eat it, too, seeds and all!
Baked White Beans with Garlic, Lemon, and Herbs
1 pound dried white beans (I used Great Northern, but cannelini or navy would work, too), soaked overnight, then rinsed and drained
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
12 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped (about 1/3 cup)
10 fresh sage leaves, minced
2 tsp fresh lemon thyme leaves
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
broth or water
1 spring fresh rosemary
1 large lemon, thinly sliced in rounds
pinch dried chili flakes or Aleppo pepper flakes
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1. Heat oven to 350F. Place rinsed and soaked beans in dish with onions and garlic, and pour on 3 tbsp olive oil. Stir to coat, then add sage, lemon thyme, and thyme, and stir to mix. Add enough water or broth to be just above the top surface of the beans. Nestle the rosemary on the beans, then cover the surface with lemon slices and sprinkle with pepper and chili flakes/aleppo pepper flakes.
2. Cover dish with foil and puncture a few times to let steam escape. Bake for about 1.5-2 hours. Be sure to check on them after an hour – if all the liquid has cooked off and they seem dry, add a little more liquid and continue to bake. If there is still liquid, just put back in the oven and keep baking until they are tender to your liking.
3. Remove from oven, drizzle with olive oil (if desired, I didn’t) and season to taste with salt. Consider removing the lemon pieces and rosemary, but no worries if you don’t. Serve warm or at room temperature with toasted bread.