Our kind of fast food: batch cook and keep in the fridge or freezer, ready for a quick meal whenever you need one!
We recently experimented with the craze of soaking. Soaking beans, soaking pasta, soaking just about anything you're planning to cook in terms of pulses or carbs. We have a large packed of lima beans in the pantry, and with the advent of cooler climes, I decided now was the time to soak, boil, and then bake those beans. The kids love a good helping of baked beans (especially when accompanied by sukuma wiki - the local kale) and a big batch goes a long way as fast food during the week.
So we soaked the beans overnight - two cups - in a generous amount of water, and watched them become plump and slightly softer than they had been. In the morning, we drained them and washed them through a couple of times before placing in a large pan of fresh water with a bay leaf, a clove and a couple of peppercorns. Bring up to the boil and then simmer for 45 - 60 minutes. At the start there will be quite a bit of scummy foam that comes to the surface. Simple skim it off and discard in the sink. After 45 - 60 minutes, they should be edible if you bite into them. Naturally, they are a bit more 'bitey' than your tinned beans, but cooking them this way means more nutrients and more flavour. Now you can take a break if you want to get out of the kitchen... or plough on!
1 celery stick
1 tbsp vegetable oil
150ml vegetable or chicken stock
400g can of tomatoes
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
flaked sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
½–1 tsp black treacle
100g smoked back bacon, fat trimmed and meat finely diced
Make a mirepoix with the onion, carrot and celery. I did this in my magimix to ensure it was all very finely chopped. Next, fry this in your tbsp of vegetable oil, on a low, slow heat. After about ten minutes, everything should be fairly soft. Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a separate pan and then put aside.
Turn the heat up on the mirepoix for the last few minutes to caramelize things just slightly before adding stock, soy sauce, tomatoes, smoked sweet paprika and some salt. At this stage, also put in the treacle and cooked bacon. Season with salt and pepper and then let it simmer for at least an hour. Check back on it from time to time to make sure it's not catching on the bottom of the pan, or getting to dry. If it is, simply add more stock or water.
Remove from the heat, and whizz up the sauce in a blender until smooth. Return to the pan and add the beans, and then allow to simmer for 15 - 20 minutes so that all the flavours are beautifully acquainted and it's ready to eat! Serve with a steaming baked potato and some freshly grated cheddar and there you have a delicious meal.