As a general rule, I’m always late. If you ask to meet me at a certain time, I will be delayed. I will always return books to the library when they are overdue, actively ignoring the reminder email they send to return the books four days before they’re due, believing that I’ll dig up some motivation to take some notes on that last chapter.
Usually, I return library books at least a day or two late and each time, I brace myself for the mounting late fees. Over the last semester, in what I thought was an act of kindness/Irish leniency, the librarians taking the books would just smile and say “that’s grand”. And that’s all that would happen in the transaction, no demanding money, no scrambling to find 20c at the end of my bag. I thought they were just being nice and letting me off for coming in a day late. That is of course until I returned some books last week and was informed of my €7.00 fine… All through those, “That’s grand.” comforting statements, they had just been quietly adding up the bill over the term. On top of my seemingly extortionate fine, I had forgotten about the glut of sticky notes I left in one of the books I was returning, marking most of the pages. The librarian ignored my offers and pleas to remove them myself. Instead, she insisted on painstakingly removing each one (about 50) herself while I watched, clutching my €7 worth of loose change that I wasn’t yet mentally ready to part with.
So with some of my food budget of the week depleted, I decided to make beans on toast for dinner but to go for a more mature, homemade version. Older generations had a moment in the last few months criticizing millennials for not buying tin openers. We actually acquired our tin opener on the first day we moved into our student flat when we sent out a roommate to buy a wine opener for our celebratory cheap bottle of wine, and they returned weary with just a tin opener in their embrace. Still, we cheap, desperate but innovative students managed to get the bottle open with some YouTube videos to aid us to not so horrible results.
This recipe is not exactly like your regular off-brand-on-brand-cryogenically-sealed tin of baked beans, it feels like you’ve made more of an effort and rewards you as such. If like me, you paired your baked beans of childhood with sausages, or if you’re simply preparing for the end of Veganuary, feel free to add them in. Chorizo also works really well. Cook off the sausages or chorizo separately then add to the sauce with the beans. If you don’t have the spices on hand, just use a second clove of garlic to add a kick. Adding the garlic cloves in whole is a bit of a cheat’s way to use garlic. The garlic infuses with the oil and you can skip the chopping stage. This is also a basic tomato sauce that you can use for pasta or whatever else you like.
In short: Make a tomato sauce and add cannellini beans, serve with some toast and nostalgia.
Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to a medium sized saucepan and place on low-medium heat. Add the peeled garlic clove and let it brown in the oil, it’ll take around 3-4minutes. Don’t let it get too dark or else the sauce will taste bitter.
Once the garlic is golden brown all over, add the tin of tomatoes, with the spices and a pinch of salt.
Turn the heat up to medium and bring to a simmer. Use the back of a wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes. Leave to cook for around 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes and scraping down the sides of the pan. Turn down the heat if needed, it should just be a gentle bubble.
If the sauce gets too thick, don’t worry, just add a tbsp of water to loosen it up.
You can remove the garlic clove at this point.
Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and add to the tomato sauce. Cook for another 5-7 minutes.
Give it a taste and add more seasoning if needed. Most of the acidity from the tomatoes should be cooked off by now.
While your beans are cooking in the sauce, toast your bread. The timing of having hot bread and hot beans is crucial.
Top your toast with the beans and a sprinkle of black pepper. I sometimes top the beans with a poached or fried egg (pictured above) to make it into more of a meal but it’s fine to keep it simple.