This vegetarian baked bean recipe is a unique – but utterly delicious – spin on classic baked beans. Curry spices, coconut milk, ginger, and brown sugar make this super-easy slow cooker recipe shine.
The eggs were on the lighter side of beige, divided between two plates and ready to eat. “Oh, did you just scramble the whites?” I asked my guy as he diligently prepped the rest of our breakfast. I was busy photographing a batch of muffins fresh out of the oven.
“Nope!” he chirped.
I shrugged to myself and kept snapping. He finished setting the table.
We finally sat down and I peeled the liner off a muffin, plopping it next to the eggs. I peered closer. Tiny little brown flecks? “These are interesting,” I said. “Did you use a new kind of spice? What did you use?”
I took a bite. Was that … “cinnamon??”
“Yes! I thought I’d try cinnamon!”
They weren’t half bad, really. I mean, I’m not sure I’d say they were half good but they were surprisingly edible, if … different.
For a moment, I caught myself thinking how cute it was that my guy decided to try something new with food, a habit he’s obviously picked up from his food blogger wife. Then his face fell a little and the confession wasn’t far behind.
“I started shaking cinnamon into the eggs, and as it landed, I thought to myself, ‘WAIT. Is this right? Do we put cinnamon in scrambled eggs??!’ But it was, like, ‘well, too late,'” He smiled guiltily. “So I just decided to go with it.”
It was one of those moments that starts out as mildly amusing and then keeps getting funnier. So we laughed between bites of cinnamon eggs and I remembered past blurry-eyed mornings when I’ve brewed up entire coffee pots full of hot water (who needs coffee grounds?); when I’ve spooned salt on top of my oatmeal instead of sugar; when I’ve accidentally gargled shampoo instead of mouthwash. Yeah, that happened.
Sometimes strange food combinations don’t work, but sometimes they really, really do. These coconut curry baked beans aren’t the result of a brain glitch, but the first time I decided to throw this particular combination into the Crock Pot, I knew they could go either way. Luckily, they went the right way.
They’re pretty awesome.
They have all the best properties of baked beans – rich, tangy, a touch of sweet and a bit of heat – without getting too weird. The curry spices definitely stand out, and a bit of heat builds with every bite. The flavor of the coconut milk is mostly lost, but it does lend a wonderful creamy texture that can’t be beat.
They’re different, but good different.
Oh, and I know, I know – a Crock Pot recipe in June? But if you haven’t discovered the beauty of the slow cooker in summer, I daresay it’s time you do. On intense summer days, the Crock Pot helps you avoid the hot stove and, overall, creates very little heat in an already-sweltering kitchen.
Plus, Crock-Pot-enabled lazy cooking should never be out of season. Cinnamon eggs, on the other hand … well. (Love you babe!)
A little about beans …
I’ve started cooking my beans from dried instead of using canned, and I love it! The beans taste better, and you can’t beat the savings. I cook up a couple of pounds of dried beans at a time, and freeze them in two-cup increments. For this recipe, I just pull four cups worth out of the freezer, but you can use canned, too. If you cook up a pound of pinto beans from dried for this recipe, you’ll have about two cups of cooked beans left over. Perfect for a quick lunch, or stick them in the freezer for next time.
Crock Pot Coconut Curry Baked Beans
- 4 cups cooked pinto beans (or 3 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
- 1 medium clove garlic (minced (about 1 teaspoon))
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (about half of a thumb-sized piece)
- 3 teaspoons curry powder
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (I like kosher salt)
- 1 14- ounce can light coconut milk
- 1 6- ounce can tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (I prefer dark but light is fine)
- One 3-quart or larger slow cooker
- Add beans to Crock Pot.
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Stir in the ginger, curry powder, cumin, crushed red peppers, and salt.
- Reduce heat to low and stir in the coconut milk, tomato paste, and brown sugar until tomato paste is evenly distributed. Pour over beans and toss gently until beans are coated.
- Cook on low 8 - 10 hours.
- Taste and add additional salt if desired.
Also potluck-friendly, this coconut banana bread would make an excellent precursor :: These spiced corn & chickpea samosas from Naturally Ella look like they’d be the perfect accompaniment :: Or pick up Trader Joes‘ oh-so-good vegetable masala burgers to serve alongside :: And for dessert, these absolutely gorgeous mango lassi popsicles from Cooking Stoned would be pretty dang perfect.