Beans on Toast

Today, baked beans are a staple convenience food in the UK, often eaten as part of the modern full English breakfast and particularly on toast (called simply “beans on toast”).Heinz Baked Beans remains the best-selling brand in the UK. In America, the H. J. Heinz Co. continue to sell baked beans, although they are not always as widely distributed as competing American brands. Despite their international fame, there are currently substantial differences between the Heinz baked beans produced for the UK market (descended from the original American recipe) and the nearest currently equivalent American product (Heinz Premium Vegetarian Beans).

So this basic, quick, meal might actually be the national dish of Britain. One site I looked at claimed that 85% of Brits eat beans on toast at least once a week. That’s a lot of beans. They can be eaten for any meal, at any time of day and are a super easy meal when you need food NOW. As a bonus beans plus grain (bread) equals complete protein.

If you haven’t seen my post about British baked beans, the important bit is that they have a tomato based sauce and are not as sweet as their American counterparts with molasses based sauces. Heinz is the predominant brand in England, and they come in a blue can. Heinz Premium Vegetarian Beans is reportedly the closest equivalent in America, but true connoisseurs say they aren’t the same. You can find the English version in import shops and specialty stores. Or use my recipe to make your own. (Full disclosure- I’ve never actually had the commercial version, so I can’t say how authentic my recipe is. I’ll stand by its tastiness though)

The simplest version, of course, is to just open a can of beans and pour it over some toast. I watched one video where a woman admitted that her favorite way was actually with cold beans. But I think most people heat the beans up, and adding a bit of grated cheese seems to be fairly standard.

Of course, from there, people go all kinds of directions. Fried eggs, tomatoes, greens… whatever sounds good to you. I’m keeping it relatively simple with only a couple basic additions to the base recipe. But I’m including a fairly extensive list of possible additions to either mix into the beans or add on top.

Unsurprisingly beans on toast spread throughout the countries of the former British empire, with variations to suit local tastes. Several versions from India made it into the data I used to create my recipe. The defining characteristic of them seems to be a lot of chili flakes- the recipes from India all called for over 2 Tablespoons of chili flakes for 1 can of beans. That’s some serious heat. I used just 1 heaping Tablespoon in mine and it was beyond what I think of as comfortable heat. In the published version I’m just going to say chili flakes to taste.

Bread is a matter of personal taste. I just used the sliced wheat sandwich bread we currently have in the kitchen. Feel free to use whatever bread you have or like. Just make sure that it’s sliced an appropriate thickness and don’t overwhelm the beans with a thick slab of dense bread.

Beans on Toast

Serves: 2
Prep: 5 minutes

2 Tablespoons butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can ( about 2 cups) British baked beans
Chili flakes, to taste

4 slices bread

2 Tablespoons cheese, grated

Optional toppings: 
Roasted cherry tomatoes
Wilted spinach
1 oz parmesan, grated
Worcestershire sauce
12 inch sub roll, halved lengthwise, in place of sliced bread

Optional additions to beans:
2 Tablespoons ketchup
½ cup spring onion (white part only), minced
1 ½ teaspoons dry oregano
2/3 medium green pepper, diced
1 Tablespoon green onion
Black Pepper

Heat ½ Tablespoon of the butter in a small saucepan. When melted, add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add beans and chili flakes and heat, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes util hot. 

Meanwhile toast your bread. When toasted, immediately spread with remaining butter. 

Place buttered toast on plates and spoon beans over top. Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve. 

One Comment Add yours

  1. Glenn Clark says:

    BoS an English version of SOS? Sounds interesting I am going to try it some day😇

    Liked by 1 person

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