miso and molasses baked beans - The First Messpin it!miso and molasses baked beans - The First Messpin it!miso and molasses baked beans - The First Messpin it!Modern Potluck by Kristin Donnellypin it!
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 saladChinese 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 - The First Messpin it!miso and molasses baked beans - The First Messpin it!miso and molasses baked beans - The First Messpin it!miso and molasses baked beans - The First Messpin it!
From Kristin Donnelly’s Modern Potluck
Print the recipe here!
SERVES: 8-16
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.

  • Anya18/08/2016 - 7:24 am

    Laura, I love your tips on making successful dishes for a potluck. I too find that, even if I’m dealing with picky eaters, if I make a killer & beautiful veggie dish, it will often be the first bowl licked clean. I’ve been loving the book as well and hoping to make something from it next weekend. And you are really good at photographing brown foods, these look SO appetizing :)ReplyCancel

  • Amanda18/08/2016 - 8:08 am


    This sounds really good. Is it possible to make this in a crock pot as opposed to baking them in an oven? Just curious….ReplyCancel

    • Laura18/08/2016 - 8:25 am

      I think it would definitely work! Once you have the beans at the first boiled stage, transfer all of the liquid and beans to the crockpot. Throw the miso, molasses etc in as well, and then I would put it to the “high” setting. Then just keep checking on it/stirring it up every 30 minutes or so.

  • Tori//Gringalicious18/08/2016 - 8:13 am

    Delish! Baked beans are a summer fave in my family so I really need to try this!ReplyCancel

  • Abby @ Heart of a Baker18/08/2016 - 8:57 am

    GIRL how you make these beans/brown foods so pretty?! This is my summertime jam right here (extra corn on the cob, please and thank you). xoxoReplyCancel

  • Michelle18/08/2016 - 9:34 am

    Ok I need this book in my life. Getting on it, stat.+ Also these beans. I love the idea of making a big pot of these on the weekend and eating them in different applications.ReplyCancel

  • Lee18/08/2016 - 10:08 am

    Hey Laura! Gorgeous post as always ☺️ I’m wondering what you cook on… Is that an induction stove I spy in the photos above? I’m considering switching to induction and am curious if you’re a fan. Also, champing at the bit for that cookbook to come out! -LeeReplyCancel

    • Laura18/08/2016 - 11:24 am

      Hey Lee! My stove is just a basic electric one with a smooth cooktop. Induction ranges are amazing though–you can boil a pot of water with those things so fast! I’ve used them at some cooking classes and demos and stuff and they really do perform with the speed of gas. I think the only drawback is that you have to ensure that all of your pots/pans/skillets are compatible.

      • Lee21/08/2016 - 10:16 pm

        Thanks for your reply Laura! ☺️ReplyCancel

  • valentina | sweet kabocha18/08/2016 - 11:34 am

    Her book seems really interesting, even if I never have the occasion to cook for potlucks :D And these beans look just delicious *___*ReplyCancel

  • Dawn18/08/2016 - 12:44 pm


  • Alexandra18/08/2016 - 12:50 pm

    I totally love this! I’m always looking for new fun ways to make weeknight bean dishes :)

    These photos are stunning too! Did you use VSCO on them?ReplyCancel

  • Libby18/08/2016 - 1:10 pm

    Some friends and I started hosting twice-monthly potluck dinners where everyone is invited. The only rule is that we all sit at the same table. The table… is getting really, really long! We’re averaging 30-40 people for every meal!
    That being said–this is exactly the kind of book that I need! :DReplyCancel

  • Kristin18/08/2016 - 2:28 pm

    These look amazing so much so that I don’t think I can wait overnight to soak them. Any recommendations for cooking the beans first in a pressure cooker? Should I under cook them? Should I still put in the recommended amount of broth/water to the pot with the sauce?

    Thanks for the help!ReplyCancel

    • Laura18/08/2016 - 3:17 pm

      Hi Kristin,
      I’ve never used a pressure cooker so I’m hesitant to offer advice here. Hopefully some readers with experience will see this and be better able to help you out!

  • Cassie18/08/2016 - 4:29 pm

    I don’t normally have baked beans but this looks delicious! This looks like such a great recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Lynn long18/08/2016 - 5:32 pm

    Perhaps the miso in your recipe is only for taste, but miso has so much more to offer. By adding it at the end of the cooking time, you’ll also get the probiotic benefits of the miso. Long cooking, especially at high temperatures, will kill all the beneficial stuff miso has. In macrobiotic cooking we always add miso at the end and simmer for only a few minutes before serving.ReplyCancel

  • Daria19/08/2016 - 2:11 am

    I am living and working in UK and we are serving everyday baked beans with brakfast but… there is nothing better than homemade baked beans – I love them so much, this is way I don’t like to buy the ready ones. I really need to try your recipe! With miso it has to be very intresting flavour :)
    An amazing photos, as always! <3ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey19/08/2016 - 10:52 am

    Making beans look fine since always! These photos are gorgeous, Laura! xoReplyCancel

  • Kathryn Grace19/08/2016 - 8:11 pm

    Your potluck ideas: Winners all, I can attest. I never thought of adding miso to baked beans. What a terrific ingredient! I’ll give that a try next time. Had to laugh, though–always thought ginger was my personal baked beans secret. Oh well. Makes the beans so good, doesn’t it?ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Berkey20/08/2016 - 1:15 am

    This must be popping inside my mouth and I like it. Can’t wait to try one on my own!ReplyCancel

  • Katja21/08/2016 - 4:23 am

    Hi Laura,
    This recipe looks gorgeous and so delicious, as always! Do you think – from a time saving point of view – it’s possible to make this with canned beans? Just stir in the sauce with the canned beans, and simmer them in the oven? I’m curious to hear your thoughts!ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/08/2016 - 11:42 am

      Hey Katja,
      I think that would be do-able. In this recipe, when the beans go into the oven, they definitely aren’t cooked all the way through. With that in mind, I might reduce all liquid components in this recipe by about a third. And when they go in the oven, I’d stir in about 1-2 cups of vegetable stock. Be mindful that if you use canned/cooked beans, after baking in the oven, they’re going to be reeeeaaallly soft (but probably still really tasty). Hope some of this is helpful!

  • Allyson21/08/2016 - 1:14 pm

    These baked beans sound excellent (beans+miso=yes), but I’m also salivating at the thought of your corn salad. Potluck food is tricky because there’s so many diets out there, and so many picky eaters, but sometimes magic strikes and you find just the right thing.ReplyCancel

  • Agnes {Cashew Kitchen}22/08/2016 - 11:44 am

    YUM yes please! This sounds so simple and delicious. Everything with miso and tamari is like <3<3<3
    And you definitely did well on that brown food photography challenge :DReplyCancel

  • Jimm22/08/2016 - 1:59 pm

    Approximately how long do they need to simmer in the first step?ReplyCancel

    • Laura23/08/2016 - 11:44 am

      The first boil was roughly 20 minutes for me. It will really depend on the freshness of your dried beans though. The blowing trick is really helpful to assess the doneness!

  • molly yeh23/08/2016 - 7:18 pm

    i don’t know why it took me SO LONG to have baked beans for the first time (had them earlier this month), but i am a new convert! cannot wait to try these and i am so in love with these photos!!ReplyCancel

  • Emily28/08/2016 - 7:27 am

    I so appreciate your philosophy of how you approach bringing food to potlucks- familiar with a bit of flair, and getting people to love eating vegetables. You have the gift to make everything look gorgeous, so I’m sure your dishes are always such a hit! Baked beans are such comfort food- so intrigued by this version with the miso, tamari, and ginger. Sounds and looks SO good.ReplyCancel

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  • Smadar15/01/2017 - 12:54 pm

    Laura, any advice on how to make this recipe in a slow cooker? Thanks!ReplyCancel

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