This casserole is a hit with both vegans and non-vegans. I find that most non-vegans eye it suspiciously when they first see it as it is clearly loaded with beans, but after the first helping – almost everyone goes back for more. For people who struggle with gas and bloating from eating beans, this is a good starting point as chickpeas and black beans are much easier on the digestive system than most other beans and cause far less (or no) gas/bloating.
What I love about this dish is that it can be made in advance and stored in the fridge. You can make it 2 days ahead if needed. Just do not bake it yet, cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Before you need it, remove from fridge 30 minutes prior to baking to bring it to room temperature and then bake it before serving. It can even be baked in advance (a day or 2 before) and heated in the microwave prior to serving. (You can’t taste the difference!) I would be cautious to heat it in the oven as this may dry it out.
Ingredients (Serves 6-8 when served with side dishes)
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 1 green pepper and 1 yellow/orange/red pepper (either is fine), finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons garlic, crushed
- 2 large apples (sweet ones are preferable – golden delicious works well), peeled,cored and chopped
- 1 can chickpeas (244g drained – or 1.5 cups) (first drain and rinse)
- 1 can black beans (as above)
- 1 can cannilini beans (as above)
- 1 can tomato puree (410g) (not tomato paste)
- 1 cup tomato sauce (all gold works well)
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (normal paprika will do)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Saute onions in a little olive oil until nicely browned. Add garlic and saute another minute. Then add pepper and saute another minute. Then add apples and saute another 2 minutes. Add all the beans and mix well. Set aside.
Put everything on the list from tomato puree until black pepper into your blender and blend until dates are completely smooth. Taste and adjust to suit your taste. You may want to add liquid smoke for more smokiness or more chilli/cayenne for a bit more bite etc.
Combine sauce and bean mixtures and mix well. Spoon into a greased ovenproof dish, cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20-30 minutes or until it looks nice and tacky, caramelised around the edges.