If you often have small quantities of several varieties of dried beans in your pantry, here is a great way to use them up. For a festive presentation, add the bread crumb or caramelized apple topping.

Cider Baked Beans

Ingredients

Medium (approx. 4 quart) slow cooker

2 cups assorted dried beans 500 mL
2 onions, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, peeled and thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp chili powder 10 mL
1 tsp salt 5 mL
1 tsp cracked black peppercorns 5 mL
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick piece, about 2 inches (5 cm)
1 cup apple cider or juice 250 mL
1 cup water 250 mL
1⁄2 cup maple syrup 125 mL
2 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in 30 mL
2 tbsp (30 mL) cold water

Preparation

1. Soak beans according to your preferred method (see pages 6 and 7). Drain and rinse and set aside.
2. In slow cooker stoneware, combine beans, onions, celery, carrots, parsnips, garlic, chili powder, salt, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, apple cider, water and maple syrup. Cover and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours or on High for 5 to 6 hours, until beans are tender.
3. In a bowl, combine dissolved cornstarch with 2 tbsp (30 mL) hot cooking liquid from beans and stir until smooth. Gradually add up to 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) hot bean liquid, stirring until mixture is smooth. Return mixture to stoneware and stir well until sauce thickens.

Serves 8.

Variation

Cider Baked Beans with Bread Crumb Topping: Preheat broiler. After beans are cooked, ladle them into individual heatproof tureens or a baking dish. In a bowl, combine 1 cup (250 mL) dry bread crumbs with 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) each melted butter and finely chopped parsley. Sprinkle over beans and place under broiler until topping is lightly browned and beans are bubbling.

Make Ahead

To manage your time most effectively when making this dish, soak the dried beans overnight. Peel and chop the onions, celery, carrots, parsnips and garlic the night before you plan to cook. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Measure the dried spices and cover. Combine apple cider, water and maple syrup in a 4-cup (1 L) measure. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, drain and rinse the beans and proceed with the recipe.

Excerpted from 250 Best Beans, Lentils & Tofu Recipes by The Editors of Robert Rose Inc. © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca All rights reserved: May not be reprinted without permission.