Suzy Spoon’s vegetarian kitchen, 256pp.
by Suzy Spoon
Pan Macmillan Australia, Sydney, 2014
Cooking on page 32
The words ‘vegetarian’ and ‘butcher’ don’t really go together in the same phrase, but Suzy Spoon is both—Australia’s first vegetarian butcher.
Growing up in rural New South Wales, Spoon was surrounded by livestock. Her grandparents had an abattoir and large butcher’s shop. But at age 16, while on exchange in New Zealand, she worked on a chicken broiler farm. It turned her off meat forever.
Now she runs her own vegetarian deli and café in Sydney where she produces vegetarian (and vegan-friendly) sausages, burgers and other popular dishes that traditionally would be based on meat.
The recipe on pages 32–33 would often include pork, but this version is meat-free.
Quick and easy baked beans
60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
1/2 white onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons white miso paste
4 tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 x 400 g cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
toast, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2–3 minutes, or until soft and brown. Add the garlic and sauté for 20–30 seconds, being careful not to let it burn.
In a heavy-based baking dish (or casserole dish) combine the miso paste with 250 ml (1 cup) of water. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, vinegar, clove and sautéed onions and garlic. Mix well. Add the beans, salt and pepper. Cover with a heavy lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and return the dish to the oven to cook for a further 20 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Remove the clove before serving.
If you prefer to prepare your own beans, soak 1 1/2 cups of dried cannellini beans in 1 litre of water overnight. Drain and rinse. Transfer to a saucepan with 1.25 litres of fresh water and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Boil, uncovered, for 90 minutes, or until tender.
How it played out
The recipe title says ‘quick and easy’ so I made it as written, and found it to be exactly that. Especially because I did use tinned beans. The whole process went so fast I forgot to take many pictures.
I also used my trusty cast iron Dutch oven, which I think is the perfect vessel for making any kind of baked beans. I confess that I did not remove the clove before serving—mostly because I couldn’t find the darned thing. I don’t know who ate it, but nobody complained about it?
The beans were great served on toast (my homemade sourdough bread).
I was stunned by how full-flavoured these beans turned out. Really, really delicious and super easy to make. I suspect the miso paste provided a lot of the flavour.
The recipe reminded me of a gal I worked with many years ago at the Australian Government Publishing Service. She was quite the character and used to say she made a baked dinner for the family every Sunday—baked beans on toast!
The other story I remember about her involved her son, who was arrested for growing marijuana in the backyard. Apparently the plants were suddenly visible over the back fence and the neighbours reported him. In court he said he would probably never have been caught ‘if mum hadn’t watered the garden that morning’.