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Kale Baked Beans

Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart

                                                             -Schoolyard chant

So, I’ve mentioned before how I love baked beans on toast. Everytime I have them, whether they are jazzed up on some fantastic bread or just a tin of Batchelors on Brennans‘, they evoke memories of staying with my Granny during World Cup 1990 while my mom was away. At night when my dad got home, we’d drink really sweet, milky tea and feast on beans on toast. Maybe we didn’t have them everyday, but I was under 8 years old at the time, and that’s what my memory is telling me!

While the bread is certainly important, for example, a nice Vienna Roll or Brennan’s Batch loaf would do the trick, getting such high quality bread in Korea sadly doesn’t equate to a quick and easy meal. I’d have to trek to Daejeon, which is 30 minutes away by train, nevermind actually getting to the bakery and home again. So, I mostly make do with bread from Paris Baguette or Homeplus, which would make any true bread aficionado cry, but does work for me in a pinch.

While yes, I love just plain baked beans on toast, I have become accustomed in recent years to fancying those simple beans up so that my easy meal is a little healthier and/or a little tastier without very much more work.  To that end, I give you the first way I started jazzing up beans here in Korea. The reason I started making these was that, one day, I had a bunch of kale leftover from making colcannon and I didn’t want it go to waste. I love these beans and gladly eat them on toast quite frequently.

Cheesy Kale Baked Beans on Toast

Serves 2*


  • 1.5 cup kale, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter(you can always add more if needed)
  • 2 tbsp, olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 tin of baked beans*
  • 2 tsp, sugar
  • 1 generous splash soy sauce.
  • Slices of cheddar cheese – enough to “top” the beans when putting in the oven
  • Your favourite bread, toasted.


  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC
  2. Meanwhile, boil a pot of water then add the chopped kale.
  3. Bring back to a boil, reduce and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain and squeeze out excess water.
  5. In the same pot, melt the butter, and then add the kale, sauteing for around 5 minutes. Remove from the hob/stovetop until needed.
  6. At the same time, heat an oven safe pot on medium heat.
  7. Once hot, add the oil and heat for a further 20 seconds.
  8. Add the onion and saute for 5-10 minutes.
  9. Once translucent and soft,  stir in the beans, sugar and soy sauce.
  10. Bring to a boil and then add the kale.
  11. Bring back to the boil, stirring frequently as you don’t want to burn the beans.
  12. Remove from hob.
  13. Add slices of cheddar cheese to the top of the beans.
  14. Transfer to the oven and cook for 10 minutes at 190ºC.
  15. Reduce the heat to 150ºC and cook for a further 15 minutes until the cheese is toasted.
  16. Meanwhile, slice your bread and place in the toaster or under the grill/broiler.
  17. Once toasted, butter (generously, is best) and top with the beans.
  18. Enjoy.

*I do not use pork and beans baked beans as they have a different flavour due to the pork being added, so I can not confirm to you if this recipe would work with them.  I prefer to use vegetarian baked beans. To readers in Ireland, Batchelor’s or Heinz are perfect. To readers elsewhere, I use Sun-Q Baked Beans in Korea.

**For this recipe to be lactose free, obviously don’t use the cheese or else substitute a vegan cheese. You may also want to skip the oven part.


Make it for a larger crowd: If you leave out the toast you can also eat these beans as a side when serving Chicken Rice Salad as a main dish. Alternatively, serve it as a side to Shepherd’s Pie or the Roasted Pork Chops with Sweet Potato.

For breakfast the next day: Serve with sausages, eggs, rashers/bacon and fried tomatoes.

Make it your own: If you want,you can skip step 12-13, I find however, the “toasted” beans are really good. You could also swap the cheddar for mozzarella or Edam cheese. Can’t eat gluten? Use as filling for baked potatoes.


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