Baked beans with Turkish spices & crunchy crumbs

Baked beans with Turkish spices & crunchy crumbs

New Feast
Alan Benson

Dried beans often seem a little austere or even, dare we say it, dull. But this way of baking them slowly in the oven, with plenty of aromatics and a touch of chilli heat, really transforms them into something special.

Serve the beans as is, with warm bread and lots of creme fraiche butter or jazz them up with this crunchy sourdough crumb topping. Either way, use the tastiest tomatoes you can find. In the winter, we suggest vine-ripened cocktail tomatoes, which are fairly readily available and have an acceptable flavour, albeit less intense than summer tomatoes. As with many braises, the flavours of this dish develop over time, so you can happily serve them a day (or even two) after making.


Quantity Ingredient
250g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight
300g vine-ripened tomatoes
3 shallots, quartered
6 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
4-5 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
40ml extra-virgin olive oil
40ml turkish red pepper paste or tomato puree
1 tablespoon good-quality harissa
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
450ml vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
big squeeze lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt

Crunchy crumbs

Quantity Ingredient
150g stale sourdough bread
1 garlic clove, grated
1 orange, zested
1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
40ml olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Drain the soaked beans and rinse them well. Tip into a mediumsized roasting tin and scatter on the tomatoes, shallots, garlic and herbs. Mix the oil with the pepper paste, harissa and molasses then add it to the stock. Pour over the beans and season with pepper. Don’t add any salt at this stage. Cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper, followed by a sheet of foil. Bake for 1 hour, then add the lemon juice and salt and return to the oven, uncovered, for a further 45 minutes, or until the beans are very tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Set aside for up to 4 hours until ready to serve, or proceed with the crumb topping, below.
  3. To make the crumb topping, break the sourdough bread into pieces and whiz in a food processor to coarse crumbs. Add the garlic, orange zest and thyme leaves and continue whizzing to fine crumbs. Stir the salt and oil into the crumbs and scatter it on top of the beans in an even layer. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, or until the crumb topping is crisp and golden.


  • Both Turkish red pepper paste and harissa are available from Middle Eastern grocers, specialist food stores, and even some supermarkets.
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