Baked beans can take hours to make, but you can make a pretty good knock-off with canned beans and the stovetop. For many years I was a pretty strict vegetarian. I ate no dairy or cheese, and only occasionally a little fish. Beans were a mainstay of my diet, and these sweet baked beans were a favorite treat. Even though these days I eat a little of everything, these beans still taste pretty good to me.
1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over a medium-high heat. When the oil starts to ripple, add the onions and cook, stirring until they turn transparent. Turn the heat to medium low and cook stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes.2. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the tomato paste. Cook stirring for 1 minute until it turns a deep orangey red, taking care not to let it burn. Stir in the molasses, then add the diced tomatoes and the chipotle pepper or smoked paprika. Mix well. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by about a third. Add salt to taste.
3. Add the beans and enough apple juice to just cover them. Bring to a simmer, then add the vinegar.
4. Cook the beans gently for about 20 minutes, adding a little more apple juice if they start to look too dry. When they are ready, add a little more vinegar if desired, and take out the chipotle pepper. Serve.
If cannellini are not in the cupboard try substituting this recipe with black beans, kidney beans, cranberry beans, or black-eyed peas.
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