Bean dish borrows from Caribbean

FAST & FRESH

August 31, 1994|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Special to The Sun

Labor Day holiday gatherings can be especially festive because they're often that last chance for an all-out al fresco bash combined with a nostalgic goodbye to summer. For cookouts on the beach, picnics in the pines or homey family gatherings in the back yard, this 30-minute transportable casserole of mildly spicy island flavors works deliciously.

After you've prepared and baked the bean casserole at home, simply cover with foil while it's still hot and then wrap a thick towel around it to hold the warmth. If you don't want the bother of carting home your casserole dish, you could bake the casserole in a heavy, disposable aluminum pan. This could be wrapped in the foil and towel or simply re-heated on the top of a grill upon reaching your destination.

Lime, ginger and pineapple give the key Caribbean notes to the bean dish. Barbecue sauce and ham make for smoky grill appeal.

This is one of the healthiest dishes going for the '90s. Low-fat, high-energy beans are the recommended base for our food pyramid. But health issues aside, everyone likes beans. If the gaseousness of beans presents a problem, I highly suggest adding some Beano, which is a natural product often found in health food stores.

Casseroles are an easy way to serve an entire meal in one pot, but this is an especially simple recipe because very little prep work is required and only a few ingredients must be measured. The ingredients do not require pre-mixing and can be simply tossed into the baking dish and stirred before baking.

To keep the meal simple and fresh, round it out with a tossed garden salad with vegetables purchased -- cleaned and cut -- from your supermarket salad bar. Make it an abundant salad with crunchy broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, raisins, nuts and mixed greens.

Fresh-baked berry cobblers would make a perfect finish to an end-of-summer picnic. When left in their baking pan, these dessert goodies are also a breeze to transport.

Items you should have as staples are: crushed pineapple,

barbecue sauce, 1 onion, light brown sugar, limes, powdered ginger, Dijon mustard, nonstick vegetable coating, salad greens, salad dressing.

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list:

2 cans (about 15 ounces) butter beans or large Limas

8 ounces baked ham

salad vegetables (from the supermarket salad bar)

fresh berry cobbler

Caribbean Baked Beans With Ham

Serves 4

2 cans (about 15 ounces each) butter beans or large limas

1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple

1/2 cup tomato-based barbecue sauce

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

8 ounces diced cooked ham

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons powdered ginger

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 1 1/2 -quart shallow baking dish with nonstick vegetable coating. Rinse and drain the beans; drain the pineapple. Mix all ingredients in the casserole until well blended.

Bake casserole, uncovered for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve immediately. Casserole may also be cooled at this point and then frozen for future use.

Per serving: calories, 455; 26g fat; 16g protein; 1109 mg sodium; 56g carbohydrates.

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