The Easy Way To Turn Any Can Of Beans Into A British-Inspired Meal

It's the middle of a busy workweek. The contents of your refrigerator are about as crowded as the Mojave desert. No dice. You turn to the pantry. All that's left are the "In Case of Emergency Break Glass" cans — white hominy, pickled beets, and (hopefully), some sort of beans. If you're like a lot of modern home cooks, you've probably been here before. But, unlike past dinnertime panics, if you have a can of beans and a loaf of bread, then you have everything you need to whip up a quick and easy dinner. (Yes, really.)

It might seem like an odd pairing at first, but don't knock it till you try it. The bean-and-carb combo has an international (and likely familiar) fanbase. Greek hummus with pita is beans and carbs, says AllRecipes, as are Mexican black bean tacos. It's an enduring gastronomic duo for a reason: It works, and it can be a mealtime savior on a busy weeknight — a fact foodies across the pond know all too well. 

Here's the easy way to turn any can of beans into a British-inspired meal. 

Whip up some Beans on Toast

Beans on toast is a classic British dish served in nearly every pub and café in the UK, says Britain Explained. In fact, Brits put away more beans than any other country in the world. So, what's all the hype about? Truth in advertising. You might describe beans on toast as a type of open-faced bean sandwich. Although, something about that somehow feels profoundly wrong.

Made the traditional way, classic beans on toast uses Heinz baked beans, which unlike smoky American baked beans have a thin tomato sauce. Pinto, fava, or white kidney beans are probably the closest lookalike for British Heinz texturally and flavor-wise. But, any canned beans you happen to have in the pantry will work just fine for this recipe. If you're using dried beans instead of canned, says Kitchn, simmer them in tomato broth, olive oil, garlic, and herbs. They'll absorb the moisture in about 30 minutes and make a solid dupe for classic British baked beans.

Elevate your beans on toast with a slab of standout bread. AllRecipes suggests using garlic focaccia, pain au levain, or a thick slice of pumpernickel. Whatever bread you choose, it should be structurally sound enough to support the beans. But, you'll also want to sop up all the leftover saucy goodness that runs onto the plate, says The Guardian. For this purpose, it's not a bad idea to reserve a second slice of untoasted, buttered bread for sopping utility.