As I mentioned last week, we spent the weekend with some of Mark’s pals from high school, and I was tasked with bringing a side for dinner the one night. I brought a corn salad with the freshest, sweetest corn from my dad’s garden, lots of basil, scallions, roasted bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, juicy slices of nectarine, spiced and candied pumpkin seeds, and a roasted jalapeño honey dressing.
When I have to go in for a potluck situation, and there’s a possibility of picky eaters/a wide range of tastes at the table, I always aim to do something familiar (summer corn yaaay) paired with an unusual-but-likeable-treatment (jalapeño dressing/hella add-ins). I also finesse it beyond in the looks department because we all eat with our eyes first, and if I have to reel you in by the eyeballs to eat vegetables, I WILL.
Mark’s friends seemed surprised that I went to the trouble of roasting a jalapeño for dressing, but extra touches like this make a dish new, and maybe a touch more exciting. It shows that you care and that you’re happy to be contributing. Also, people went back for seconds and the massive bowl-full that I brought was scraped clean. Hear me out: make it pretty, make it familiar, but also a lil’ fresh and new again = guaranteed potluck success.
I think Kristin Donnelly knows this formula to the power of a thousand. Her publisher sent me her new book, Modern Potluck, last week and I’ve been flipping through it and gaining inspiration ever since. There is an entire chapter dedicated to the 9×13 pan, and that is just too perfect for me. Casseroles, gratins, and bakes forever and ever. The book is comprised of recipes with super appealing ingredient combinations, clever execution, and little twists and turns to make everything irresistibly, well… modern. There’s an awareness that certain potluck dishes can lean toward retro, but why not celebrate that and work towards a new way?
This book isn’t vegan, but it has a lot of possible plant-based avenues of exploration. Some things I have my eye on: healthy root vegetable gratin with buttery walnuts, vegan caprese salad, Chinese cashew salad, swiss chard slab pie, lemon berry bundt cake (bonus round fact: Yossy photographed this book!), and scallion pull-apart bread. I chose this recipe because baked beans are actually one of my favourite foods, and I’m always down for trying a new version (even though the maple ones that I have in my book are pretty choice). Also, apparently I love the challenge of photographing brown foods? These are great! The miso and tamari give the beans a deep, well-rounded flavour, and the lift from the ginger and vinegar comes in just right. I also loved how easygoing these were. Boil the beans, whisk in the flavour add-ins, bake, eat. Oh, and share them with your peeps! I served mine on grilled ciabatta, and plan on re-heating leftovers with whatever we happen to be eating this week–maybe some massaged kale one night, grilled veggies and rice another night, you get the idea ;)
MISO-AND-MOLASSES BAKED BEANS RECIPE
From Kristin Donnelly’s Modern Potluck
Print the recipe here!
NOTES: Kristin says that if you’re making these ahead of time–after they’ve been refrigerated, to just gently reheat them with an extra splash of water if they seem dry.
1 pound dried navy or cannellini beans, soaked overnight
8 cups vegetable stock or water (went half and half)
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons molasses
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, plus extra
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons miso (I used a mellow/light one)
2 tablespoons low sodium, gluten-free tamari soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons dry mustard
1 large garlic clove, finely grated with a microplane
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 ½ teaspoons finely grated ginger (from a peeled, 3-inch piece)
Drain the beans. In a large, heavy, ovenproof pot, combine the beans and stock/water. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the skin of the beans crinkle/curl up when you blow on them.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust the racks in your oven to make room for the pot.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the molasses, apple cider vinegar, miso, tamari, mustard, garlic, paprika, and ginger. Add this mixture to the beans, and bring the pot back up to a boil.
Cover the beans and place the pot in the oven. Cook the beans until very tender and the liquid has thickened slightly (it will continue to thicken). It’s important to stir and check the beans every 30 minutes. They should take about 1 ½ hours total. Season the beans with salt and more vinegar if you wish, and serve hot.