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Baked beans — a U.S. classic dish

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Vegetarians may wish to keep in mind that baked beans are one of those American classics that could have a deserved, and tasty, place in a Fourth of July menu. Rio Arriba baked beans is a regional variation of this favorite, which combines the robust flavors of the Southwest with a touch of brown sugar. No single recipe for baked beans defines the dish for the whole country. When making baked beans, you have the freedom to experiment with different bean varieties, spices and ingredients to create a dish that suits your taste.


RIO ARRIBA BAKED BEANS

(Preparation 15 minutes, baking time 40 to 50 minutes)

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped poblano chili or green bell pepper

1 jalapeno chili, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

Two 15-ounce cans pinto or black beans or 3 cups cooked dry-packaged pinto or black beans, rinsed, drained (see note)

1/2 cup beer or water

1/4 cup sliced softened sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Saute onion, chilies and garlic in oil in large skillet until tender, about 8 minutes. Combine onion mixture with beans, beer or water, tomatoes, sugar, cumin, thyme leaves, bay leaf and salt in 1 1/2-quart casserole. Bake at 350 F, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until liquid is nearly absorbed.m Makes 4 servings (about 1 cup each). Note: Any canned or dry-packaged bean variety can be easily substituted for another.

Nutrition information per serving: 314 cal., 55 g carbo., 12 g pro., 5 g fat, 12 g dietary fiber, 809 mg sodium, 0 mg chol. Recipe from the Bean Education & Awareness Network.